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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Parents' Tips to Use Dunn Theory of Learning

By Andrew Loh

Dunn and Dunn learning styles are unique because they work on an individual's learning abilities and inherent skills. Individuals with an inherent learning ability may have a line of deficiency - a processing deficit that seriously affects learning process. However, every child has a different learning process that might be effective or not, depending on the child's brain developmental stages and learning efficiency.

According to Marie Carbo, Rita Dunn, and Kenneth Dunn, three of the well-known learning experts,

  1. Roughly, 30% of the school-aged children could remember what was heard by them.

  2. Roughly, 40% of them could recall those things that were seen and read by them.

  3. On the other hand, a significant number of children could learn only when they wrote.

  4. Last, some children used real-life activities to learn the lessons.

Why “Show me the way I learn” theory is so important?

As mentioned before, leaning styles for children are different and individuals use their own methods to learn. In this regard, studying basics of multiple-intelligence assumes importance. Three important types of learning styles are evident among children. They are auditory, visual and kinesthetic.

For some children, an auditory style of learning style suits the most. On the contrary, many others prefer a visual style to learn their lessons. Others learn by using a kinesthetic method of learning. Once parents learn how to identify the learning style, they can create a method that helps their children the most.

I am an auditory learner - Show me the way I learn

Children who prefer this style are the so-called traditional learners or those who belong to the traditional school of learning. They are simple and effective learners who follow an instruction-style classroom. When you use body language, body signs, and intonations in the voice and hands movements, your children are more likely to learn in a faster pace. Auditory learners learn well when they hear instructions in a loud voice.

To handle such a learner, you should learn how to communicate in an effective manner. In other words, you should be an effective speaker with an ability to instruct in a clear and precise voice. Your children would love you become verbal and vocal with them because it suits their style of learning.


  • Ask your children to read loud and understand the lessons.

  • Ask repeated questions and seek answers to them.

  • If possible, introduce audio lessons for better learning.

  • Use sounds, speech and music in the learning process.

  • Children learn by listening to words.

  • Tell them how they can do.

  • Do not show them how to do.

  • Be specific in your instructions.

  • For small children, use jingles and rhymes to tell the meaning of a word.

  • Use lot of music for small children.

I am a visual learner - Show me and I will understand and learn

Visual and spatial learners are a curious breed! They never remember of a word that is said to them. However, they remember what they see around them. They forget whatever is told to them. Visual learner is very powerful in solving puzzles, mazes, and proficient in building blocks and other similar games. They are very good in solving problem within a given frame of space. In fact, they are not traditional; they always think in an unconventional manner. They are very good in spatial tasks too. Handling such learners is rather easy. You should introduce them a variety of programs that include visuals and pictures. Talk less and show more! That is what your children need!


  • Use picture books and workbooks that contain plenty of images and pictures. Let your children look at those illustrations and learn by understanding it.

  • Give them color pens, pencils, highlighters and painting tools to draw images and understand their meanings.

  • Visual learners need a lot of concentration and quietness. Let their room be very quiet and allow them to concentrate on the homework.

  • Let your children store meaning of lessons in their heads. Ask them to create images, drawings, graphs, diagrams to signify the learning materials. Visualization techniques always work best for them.

  • Flash cards, colorized fonts and bright colors embedded within the text material will catalyze them to learn more and understand the meaning of lessons

I am a kinesthetic learner - Let me move and experience by touching and feeling things and I will understand

Kinesthetic learners are perhaps the most difficult learner to train. They cannot sit quiet in one place and do their homework. They want to touch things, feel them and experience before learning something. This type of learning is very common among young children. However, they become visual and auditory learners at a later stage. In the meanwhile, some of them may never become auditory learners even when they reach their elementary years. Such children always use their kinesthetic and tactual strengths to learn things throughout their lives (as mentioned by Rita Stafford and Kenneth J. Dunn; Allyn and Bacon, 1993).


  • Show them how they can learn and do something.

  • Remember that they always like to use their hands and body movements to learn.

  • They are the practical people, who would like to watch others how they do things and later repeat them to learn and understand.

  • For young children, try using letter tiles and boards to teach letters and language skills. Let them touch the letters with their hands and feel the meaning.

  • They may not have the required concentration levels to learn or study for a longer duration. Give them breaks every hour or so to rejuvenate their body and mind.

  • Play action games with them. They tend to learn a lot by using these games.

  • Let them play, before they do their homework or project work. They need some sort of action or activities soon after coming from school.

Additional tips

When you identify your children' learning style, you can start taking the required action on it. Just remember that learning styles are easy to find out when your children are in their primary classes. Children always learn in different ways. You can easily develop a system of learning styles for your children.

A traditional classroom is an auditory type of classroom, where the teacher depends on spoken words and action to teach and train students. This style may not suit or fit visual and kinesthetic learners because of their varying and diverse learning styles. “Please teach me in the way I understand and I will thank you from the bottom of my heart!” Understand your children, their mindset and learning style to make them proficient in their classroom.


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