When it’s noisy, kids don’t learn language skills, writes Ashley Merryman in Newsweek.
Kids in noisy environments hear enough words that they learn to communicate. But they miss out on the additional language necessary to master the more sophisticated nuances of phonics, vocabulary, and structure.
Researchers have looked at children living near busy airports. “Compared to the British average, the kids near Heathrow were a full eight months behind in reading ability,” Merryman writes.
A group of scholars once looked at a New York City school located 220 feet away from an elevated subway train. Every 4 1/2 minutes, a train roared by at 89 dB. The sound would last for 30 seconds. The kids who had classes on the train-side of the school were up to 11 months behind those in classrooms on the other side of the building.
In the early ’70s, new “open schools” were built without classroom walls. I’ve visited some — after walls or dividers were added to act as noise barriers. Even then, the ex-open schools have noise problems.
Merryman and Po Bronson are the authors of Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children.