To teach thinking skills you first have to teach children to stop and think. This process needs to start when children are young and it can be developed as they grow older and are required to do deeper thinking.
Why is executive functioning such a growing issue with middle school students? This is a skill that is not automatically achieved by all students. The students who lack executive functioning skills, often are impulsive, disorganized, and have difficulty with time management.
How do you teach a child to think? You use metacognitive skills and the STOP- THINK- PLAN- DO- CHECK mantra. Before the child does anything, you have him stop and think about what he is going to do, and verbalize it. This verbalization allows the student to become aware of his plan and think about whether this is a good plan or not.
AWARENESS: is the key.