TODAY is the first day of the school year at my school, a day when the pupils return after the long summer break full of enthusiasm and anticipation.

So, what can parents and teachers do to stimulate these young returning brains?

For years, teachers everywhere have stuffed brains full of knowledge for them to regurgitate in exams.

However, this approach may now be a little dated and in danger of leaving the teen brain uninspired.

Teen brains are, after all, primed to create and innovate new ideas.

To really improve our pupils' thinking skills and better prepare them for the adult world, we need to be elevating their brain power and inspiring them to think independently.

Children need to be encouraged to conceive many unique interpretations of movies, books, political discussions, unsettling school or peer issues, or works of art.

They need to be encouraged to be problem finders and solution setters for issues that arise daily and able to justify their decision making.

When reading a book or watching a film, they should be encouraged to give you a “message” rather than a long-winded retell without reflection.

Better still, ask them to interpret the lyrics of their favourite song from positive and negative perspectives.

Encourage them to devise a multitude of answers to a question or problem versus seeking the “right” answer.

Take them to art galleries and science museums.

Encourage them to seek meaning from the creativity of others as well as flaws in scientific design and what possible solutions exist for such flaws.

Encourage them to have an opinion on what is going on in the world around them and constructively challenge views which may arise from misunderstanding.

Our brains are designed to be inspired and this is especially true during teenage years.

Fostering and developing creativity and innovation to tackle difficult and multifaceted problems, both in and out of school, will help to better prepare them for the challenges of adult life.

As Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

But we should also focus upon their character by teaching them to be decent human beings who will make a positive contribution to society.

Encourage altruism and a selfless attitude toward others.

Encourage them to see things from the perspective of others and encourage them to be able to speak to anyone and to treat everyone with respect and dignity.

After all, our children are the leaders of tomorrow’s society.

Teaching and developing young minds is an enormous responsibility whether we do so as a teacher or a parent.

The more time we invest in planning to do so the better the outcomes are likely to be.

Children take up an enormous amount of our times, both as parents and as teachers, but so they should!