Noise and its effects on children
Suliasi Bola, Suva Noise is any unwanted sound and is often dismissed simply as a “nuisance.” However, noise can become harmful when it interferes and disrupt child’s learning in school. Some schools have noise levels (1-3) where children should adhere to, but to no success. Teachers are concerned about noise level in most of our schools which can pose a serious threat to a child’s physical and psychological health, including learning and behaviour. Research shows that noise can interfere with speech and language development. Repeated exposure to noise during critical periods of development may affect a child’s acquisition of speech, language, and language-related skills, such as reading and listening. Secondly it can impair learning because of the inability to concentrate in a noisy environment. Thirdly it impairs a child’s hearing. A child will feel a buzzing sound in the ear and this is a symptom associated with many forms of hearing loss because it resulted from prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Where is the gap? At home it’s silence and typical speech. At school, teachers expect the same, but between homes and school is a busy city traffic, loud music inside the bus, walk-mans, jack hammer, ambulance, etc. No wonder children speak loudly or raise their voices in school. Our teachers will continue to struggle to create a quiet learning environment. Who knows in the near future our children will be wearing child-sized hearing protection aid, such as earplugs or earmuffs as part of their school uniform.