Connected for College Blog  

















Wednesday, January 9, 2019

College Competency #26

Waking up early on a Monday morning is tough for anyone, especially teens who crave sleep. Teenage brains need at least 8.5 hours of sleep to perform well in sports and school, be alert at the wheel, and get along with family and friends.

Make It Happen Ideas:

·       Cut back on caffeine – coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and soda are common culprits. recommends that teens consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily. Try a cup of herbal tea or flavored water instead.

·       Ask your teen to analyze her schedule. Is she trying to fit too much into one night? Cutting back on even one activity might be the trick to getting to bed on time.

·       Enjoy calm, quiet activities later in the evening like bedtime yoga, meditation, or an Epsom salt bath (the magnesium relaxes muscles and promotes relaxation).

·       Turn the bedroom into a retreat – cell phones on silent, monitors on sleep mode to limit blue light, cool air temp, and cozy covers.

·       Consult with your family doctor if sleep does not improve. Conditions like sleepwalking, apnea or chronic insomnia may be symptomatic of a medical condition that requires treatment.

Beverly Gillen

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

These 5 Gifts are All Your Child Needs This Year

Holiday shopping can be the best (or worst) part of the season. As a new mom, I remember reading a classic advice column that solved the dilemma of what/how much to buy for my children. All you need to buy are 5 simple gifts.

The Star Tribune originally published this column on December 24, 1989. The idea is simple – children receive just 5 holiday gifts. “The gifts are not those heavily advertised and are usually not the hottest items in the toy stores. Rather, these gifts are reflections of their parents’ values and priorities” (Star Tribune, 1989):

1.       “A gift to Hug and Love” – this might be a doll or a teddy bear, something to practice taking care of, just as Mom or Dad takes care of them.

2.       “Something to Read” -  Pick out a holiday classic or a chapter book for older kids, even babies can be read to on Mom or Dad’s lap! If you are not a children’s lit expert, just ask your local librarian or bookstore for recommendations.

3.       “Toys and Games” – As a parent educator, I teach parents that play is actually child’s work. Putting together a puzzle or learning how to manage competitiveness while playing Candyland helps kids develop age appropriate skills.

4.       “Gift of Activity” – Getting the kids outside even in the dead of winter is a must for parent survival. From sleds and skates to balls and bug catchers, there are many inexpensive options to inspire having fun outdoors.

5.       “Gift of Artistic Expression” –  Encourage your budding artist, with a fresh new box of crayons or a scrapbook kit. Crafty parents can even make their own Playdough! Art projects provide a welcome solution to winter vacation boredom that parents and kids can enjoy together.

Blessings for a Happy, Healthy Holiday Season!

Source: Gardner, P. (1989). Tender Years column. Star Tribune. Minneapolis, MN.

Beverly Gillen

Monday, November 26, 2018

College Competency Series

During Thanksgiving, we talk a lot about our blessings and focus on why we are thankful. Extend this grateful feeling by teaching your child how to calculate a gratuity.  Leaving a tip is a way to express appreciation to someone who performs a personal service for you. Hairstylists, manicurists, and food servers are just some of the jobs that rely on tips for part of their income.

Make It Happen Ideas:

·       The next time your family is out for dinner, put your child in charge of calculating the gratuity. Explain that 15-20% is customary for good service. If the bill was discounted for any reason (pizza coupon), be sure to tip on the total amount before the discount was applied. Try calculating with pencil and paper and using an app.

·       While waiting for your dinner, role play what to do if the service is not stellar. Perhaps your pizza takes longer than usual or the server forgets your refill. Most people in service occupations really enjoy helping their customers but circumstances can be beyond their control. What might be happening in the kitchen to slow down their service? What proactive actions could a customer take if they are unhappy with their meal? How might they feel if they received no gratuity? What are the pro’s of being generous vs. critical?

Beverly Gillen

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Does Your Child Have College Competencies?

As a parent of two young adults, I can tell you how fast the childhood years go by – seems like cradle to college in the blink of any eye! To be successful and well-prepared for career and life, our kids need to develop critical life skills. In my book, I’ve termed these skills “College Competencies” and identified the top 100 skills that range from civic responsibilities to health/wellness awareness to social skills and money management. These competencies are not developed overnight, and parents can be caught off guard to discover that their kids are blissfully unprepared as they head off to college.

If you would like to learn more about College Competencies, watch for weekly blog postings that feature one of these skills – what’s in it for your child to master the competency, practical ideas on how to “Make It Happen”, and Get Connected resources.

If you would like to order your personal copy of Get Connected for College: The Savvy Student’s Guide to College Prep, just send a note via the website and we’ll ship it to you directly. In addition to the 100 College Competencies, the book has a Milestone Map to college admission, tips on saving for college, campus scorecard and more!

Beverly Gillen

Monday, April 30, 2018

Earth Day Celebration

Partners in Parenting Consulting LLC celebrated Earth Day by sponsoring the 2nd annual “Butterfly Heroes” event. We were delighted to have Patty Acomb of the Minnetonka City Council join us along with a group of enthusiastic Daisy Girl Scouts to pick up litter and plant for pollinators!

Bev Gillen

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Butterfly Heroes

Partners in Parenting Consulting LLC celebrated Earth Day by sponsoring a “Butterfly Heroes” event at Glen Lake Elementary. We were thrilled to have Rep. Laurie Pryor, Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, and Glen Lake Elementary Principal Radel join us for milkweed planting, a litter walk, and more! Check out Laurie Pryor’s newsletter for details and other community updates.

Beverly Gillen

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Take a Slow Day

Perhaps you remember the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare from your childhood. The overconfident hare challenges the tortoise to a race, but with slow and steady perseverance, the tortoise surprises everyone and wins the race. Striving to be slow is not a message we hear often in the American culture. By contrast, whoever claims to be the busiest is the best!

Thomas Friedman picked up on this theme when he wrote his new book, Thank You For Being Late: An Optimists Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. Families are busier today than ever before which is stressful for parents and for kids. Take the opportunity this New Year to take a “slow day” or night each week to decompress and simply enjoy each other.

·       Have a jammie night – everyone in their PJ’s by 7:00 p.m.

·       Turn off all electronics and read a chapter book together out loud

·       Make hot chocolate from scratch and sip it by candlelight

·       Play occasional hooky from meetings/sports/activities and make dinner at home instead

·       Take a yoga class together

Beverly Gillen

Monday, April 18, 2016

Global Youth Service Day

As a former Girl Scout leader, I have a soft spot for youth led service projects. Kudos to Troop 17126 of Excelsior, MN!  On April 16, these spirited fifth graders staged a mock sleep out to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness. I was impressed with their maturity and encouraged by their conviction and desire to help. The girls created a theme for their project “Kids Caring for Kids – Here, Near and Far” and will earn the Bronze award for their efforts. I have no doubt these girls will go on to do great things!

Beverly Gillen

Monday, January 11, 2016

Family Bucket List

Happy 2016!  I love the feeling of a brand new year full of possibilities.

It’s easy for days to turn into months with our time being consumed by mundane tasks that demand our attention. Tax preparation, college FAFSA applications, household chores, and community meetings are all important activities but added together can completely consume our time together as a family.

This year, we are creating a family bucket list for 2016. It’s easy to do! As a group, brainstorm a list of activities you would like to do in the coming year. Decide on one activity for each month and put it on the family calendar to claim the date as sacred family time.

  • In brainstorming mode, all suggestions are OK – the point is to generate creative ideas

  • Simple is often better – an old fashioned game night with hot chocolate can be a lot of fun on a cold winter night

  • Strive for a variety of activities and venues - outside and inside, active and quiet, creative and sporty

  • Find your inner child and try something new!

Bev Gillen

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Pay It Forward

Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? It’s an amazing thing! A few years ago, my husband and I were out to dinner celebrating our anniversary. We had splurged and were expecting a hefty check but when the server returned to clear our plates, she informed us our bill had been taken care of.  By whom??  We discovered a woman who had been dining at the restaurant earlier that night had paid for our dinner out of the goodness of her heart. She did not identify herself, choosing to do something thoughtful without asking for any credit. We were so surprised and delighted! In keeping with the spirit, we chose to pass on the gift.

November is a time we celebrate what we are thankful for. What a perfect time to do something nice for someone else. For inspiration, check out        

Beverly Gillen

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Make a Difference Day

Saturday, October 24 is National Make a Difference Day. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to spend quality time with your family, this is the day for you! 

The event began in 1992 and has become an annual community service event which is held on the fourth Saturday in October. This is a great way to teach kids how good it feels to do something nice for someone else. Even little ones can pitch in and do their part! Here are some Make a Difference Day ideas to get you started:

  • Organize a raking party to help an elderly neighbor

  • Pick up trash along a roadside or park

  • Visit veterans at a local VA hospital

  • Make mini fleece blankets for animals at a shelter

  • Bake cookies for someone who needs a day-brightener

Bev Gillen

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The 5 Senses of September

Welcome back to a new school year! September brings the promise of new teachers, new classmates, and new learning. It can also be a hectic time for families. This year, I encourage you to slow down and appreciate all the little things around you. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s attention on the present and can be a great way to connect with your family. Here are some sensory ideas to get you started. Best wishes for a wonderful new year!

Sense the sound of a school bus rushing by

Sense the smell of decaying maple leaves

Sense the sight of school books and backpacks

Sense the taste of apple crisp and pumpkin pie

Sense the touch of a child’s soft hand

Beverly Gillen

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Birth Announcement: Get Connected for College

Writing a book is a lot like having a baby.  It starts with a desire to create something new.  It takes months to grow and transform. After lots of hard work, it makes a much anticipated debut.  Now as a parent and author, I’m proud to announce the birth of my first book, Get Connected for College: The Savvy Student’s Guide to College Prep!

I wrote this book as a resource for parents and students who want the inside scoop on planning for college. While sending a child off to college is the hope and dream of many parents, navigating the process can be a daunting task. To complicate matters, students today are more time crunched than ever before and without intentional effort, it’s easy to graduate without having the critical skills needed to survive dorm life.

Parents will love this handy reference that connects all the college prep pieces together. Instead of spending sleepless nights worrying that you missed an important milestone, readers of Get Connected for College can relax and enjoy the college prep journey!

Discover valuable tools including:

  • My Milestone Map with checklists for grades 6 - 12
  • Top 100 College Competencies® across 10 subject areas
  • Over 250 practical Make it Happen ideas
  • Get Connected college prep resources
  • 4C’s of Connection
  • Campus Collection tip sheets including Spotlight on Scholarships, College Scorecard, 25 Ways to Make a Difference, 25 Ways to Start Saving for College and more

The labor to write the book may be over, but just every new parent knows, the hard work has just begun. Plans are in the works for book signings and other local events.  You can pick up your copy today at or at your local bookstore. I welcome your feedback and look forward to being part of your parenting team!

Bev Gillen

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life on Campus

Content to be uploaded shortly

Student Guest Writer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Make a Difference Day

Can one person really make a difference?  Yes, and I see it happening all around me! 

Bev Gillen

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Never Too Early to Start Preparing

Summer vacation is quickly coming to an end and back-to-school time is right around the corner.   Though students are still enjoying the last days of summer, as an administrator, I am already back at school to prepare for the upcoming year.  Even though it seems like it’s too early to be back at school, it is necessary to have this time before the students arrive to prepare and to create the “road map” that will take us through the school year.  This time of year brings back fond memories of when I was a kindergarten teacher, preparing my own classroom for the start of the school year. 

Bev Gillen

Monday, June 21, 2010

Road Trip: MN Private College Week

Jump start your college search by taking advantage of Minnesota’s Private College Week.  From June 21-25, 17 MN private colleges and universities are hosting free open houses where high school students can tour the campus, attend an information session, and talk to faculty.  Sessions are shorter than usual to allow students to visit more than one campus per day. 

Bev Gillen

Saturday, June 12, 2010

National Get Outdoors Day

Does school or work make it hard to get some sun?  Problem solved - school is out and today, June 12,  has been officially declared as National Get Outdoors Day.  

Bev Gillen

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Your Summer Count!

After a record breaking day of heat, it sure seems like summer is here.  School is winding down with year end field trips and concerts, finals, and yearbooks.  Seniors are graduating (congratulations!) and the next class is preparing to take their place.  Structured school days are about to give way to the lazy days of summer, or...

Bev Gillen





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