As I write I can hear my kids squabbling, both the radio and television blaring and our dog barking in the garden. Makes me wonder how my kids can do their homework with such a racket.
In my secondary school, the noise could be deafening. You could happily chat away during lesson time to your mates about who fancied who, music, sport, last nights television… take your pick. There was also the big main road outside the school and worst of all Rolls Royce testing their aero jet engines nearby. Noise was all around us.
It’s stating the blindingly (or maybe deafeningly) obvious that too much noise isn’t conducive to effective classroom learning. An article by Eduguide likens trying to learn with too much noise to learning in a classroom in the dark – next to impossible.
We all know that children’s concentration is limited – the danger is that too much noise switches a child off, and they start to fall behind.
Not surprisingly, research has established that there is a link between noise and poor concentration, memory and academic progress. When kids strain to filter sounds, they’re not focusing on learning. Young children are inefficient listeners – they simply don’t have the experience to fill in missing words or phrases.
As parents, we have to accept that the days of total silence in the classroom have disappeared. No doubt a good thing, listening to a teacher drone on and on with the class in absolute silence was hardly the most effective teaching technique. From my time as a mature student, I recognise that mixing it up is a good thing – by that I mean class / group discussions and presentations are more effective as they get students to think and start to understand the subject. Noise can be good.
So what can be practically done to reduce noise levels? Educators suggest installing acoustic solutions such as tile ceilings, wall coverings and bookshelves that absorb sound. But isn’t this treating the symptoms rather than the root cause – maybe Rolls Royce could have scheduled their engine testing after the final school bell rang, and our teacher work harder at engaging the class.
What as parents can we do? It’s a difficult one to answer, as we are not in the classroom and only get to recognise that it is a problem when our children start complaining or worse still falling behind. Being aware of the problem is the first step, and letting the school know if you think that there is a problem – maybe there is a simple solution like moving the child. We could also try to be more supportive when the school asks us and the PTA for more money – this time for noise reducing fixtures, fittings and furniture.
Where does this leave the child you may well ask.What happens if your child cannot concentrate – after all changes in the classroom rarely comes over night. If you think that some one to one teaching support outside the classroom is needed, then you know where to turn.