Children need quiet environments to help early brain development

Photo credit: Yan Krukau

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

This NPR article discusses new research showing that children need quiet to help their brains develop normally. Author LA Johnson quotes Nina Kraus, a neurobiologist at Northwestern University, who explained: “When the world was a lot quieter, our brains paid attention to every little leaf rustle or snap of a twig as a tool for survival … when our brains are processing sounds that trigger questions like ‘Am I in trouble here?’ or ‘Can I ignore this?’, there is less room to focus on the task in front of us.
The story also quotes professor Emily Elliott at Louisiana State University, who published a study showing that noise interfered with children’s ability to perform serial recall tasks. Research by the Quiet Coalition’s Arline Bronzaft, PhD found that noise from elevated trains outside a school in New York City interfered with learning in classrooms on that side of the school. But after the Metropolitan Transit Authority made the trains and tracks quieter, students’ test scores were the same on both sides of the building.
Parents, grandparents and teachers should be aware that there are published standards for classroom noise.  They should make sure their local school boards are aware of these standards and that classrooms in their communities’ schools are as quiet as possible.
A quieter world will be a better world for all, including students in the classroom and their teachers.

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