Noisy classrooms affect children’s learning

It’s no secret that children can be distracted very easily. They seem to have a lower threshold to concentrating on a particular subject than adults can. One of the ways children are distracted is when they are exposed to noise during a time when they are trying to focus on a task. The Sunday Edition program on the CBC has a short documentary on a method called How does your engine run? which is a program has the potential to help children self-regulate their mind/body so that they can concentrate and have a better learning experience at school. There’s a short bit on the noise-distraction aspect there. The program seems like a promising method of empowering children to figure out their feelings and work out how to best get their mind on the task at hand.

On a similar vein, during my grad studies, I was partly involved in studies to measure and characterize classrooms for the purposes of determining good acoustical characteristics for both students and teachers. It turns out that not being able to hear the teacher well is also a factor in a child’s learning. If you can’t hear and understand the instruction, you’re less likely to follow along. We don’t want the teacher to strain their voices to be heard over the classroom din – so we need reflective elements in the room to help project the teacher’s voice – yet also having absorptive elements in the room to reduce student or other noises.  There’s a difficult balance to achieve there.  There also needs to be consideration of designing some of these classrooms for hard-of-hearing students, and designing a classroom with hearing aid usage in mind.