Mrs. James answers readers' questions about education. Send yours today: columbusparent@thisweeknews.com.

Dear Mrs. James,

I know that you own and operate a successful tutoring business and I hope this isn't "wrong" to ask, but I was wondering if you were at liberty to give me some pointers on how to hire my own tutor? What questions should I ask? If you can't share your inside information I understand, but I thought I would at least ask.

Sincerely,
Alyssa Armistead

Hi Alyssa! Of course I will give you some inside information! That's what Mondays with Mrs. James is all about. I was actually interviewed back in March by 10TV News about the same exact topic. Here's what I told them:

When hiring your own tutor, I would first suggest steering clear of Craigslist and free advertising sites like that. That's just my personal opinion. You never know who you're bringing into your home or subjecting your child to. You should obtain a referral from someone you know or through a tutoring agency that you trust. You should also get a background and call at least three references.

Remember to ask specific questions. Sure, you could Google "What questions to ask a tutor," but they're often not specific enough. Ask the potential tutor to tell you specifically about a child whom they helped become successful through their tutoring services. Ask them what they most love about teaching/tutoring and look for the passion in their eyes. If you're child is struggling with a specific concept, blatantly ask the tutor how he/she would teach them that concept. Ask them to demonstrate how they would teach the quadratic formula, scientific notation, reading comprehension, etc. Lastly, you should ask them about what materials/resources they can access to help your child succeed. Ask specific questions. Get down and dirty! However, you know who to call if you ever want someone else to do the dirty work for you! Find my contact information here: www.mrsjameslearningclub.webs.com. Until then,

Keep up the good work!

Love,
Mrs. James

Dear Mrs. James,

What do teachers suggest that students do over the summer?

Thanks,
Bonnie

Hi Bonnie! Thanks so much for asking that question. I always try to let my students' parents know that summer time is free time, but not ONLY free time. In terms of academics, I always suggest summer reading for all ages. When it comes to reading, our brains are like muscles. The more we exercise our "reading muscle" the stronger it becomes and the better we read. All children can stand to read at a higher level of comprehension and skill.

I also suggest practicing math problems. You can go to your local teachers' store and purchase workbooks for them to work on a couple of times per week during the summer. This will help tremendously. The summer is a great time for kids to have a much-needed break. They need time to refresh and explore hobbies and adventures. Whatever you do, don't implement your own self made summer school. Find the proper balance of work and play, with the scales weighing heavier on the "play" during the summer and the "work" during the year. Great question!

Keep up the good work!

Love,
Mrs. James