Classroom Acoustics

It is hard for a child to learn in a noisy classroom. There are ways to make it easier for children to hear and learn. Audiologists can help. 

On this page:

  • About Classroom Acoustics
  • Problems Caused by Poor Classroom Acoustics
  • Good Classroom Acoustics Helps Everyone
  • Improving Classroom Acoustics
  • Other Resources

About Classroom Acoustics

Your child needs to hear and understand what others say to learn. A noisy classroom can make this hard. Noise in the classroom is more than children talking. There are other factors that make a classroom bad for hearing.

Acoustics is a term used to talk about how sound travels in a room. There are factors in the room design that may make sounds louder or softer. Examples include rugs on the floor, the type of ceiling the room has, and how the air ducts work. Classroom acoustics is the term for these issues in schools.

Two things cause poor classroom acoustics. These are too much background noise or too much reverberation.

Background Noise and Reverberation

Background noise is any sound that makes it harder to hear. In a classroom, background noise can come from many places, such as:

  • Cars and trucks outside of the school
  • Lawnmowers
  • The sounds of other children on the playground or in the hallway
  • Heating or air conditioning units
  • Other students in the room

Reverberation describes how sounds stay in a room after they first happen. Sounds stay in the room when they bounce off of desks or walls. It is harder to hear when sounds stay in the room. If many sounds do this at once, it can get very loud. In a classroom, it is important to have a short reverberation time.

Problems Caused by Poor Classroom Acoustics

When classroom acoustics are bad, it can cause problems with how your child

  • understands speech;
  • reads and spells;
  • behaves in the classroom;
  • pays attention;
  • concentrates; and
  • succeeds in school.

For these reasons, it is important to make the classroom quieter for all children.

Good Classroom Acoustics Helps Everyone

All children will do better in a quieter classroom. It is even more important to have a quiet room if your child has

  • hearing loss in one or both ears;
  • an ear infection or fluid in the ear;
  • a learning disability;
  • auditory processing disorder;
  • speech and language delay; and/or
  • attention problems.

A quieter classroom will also help if your child speaks more than one language.

Teachers also do better if there are good classroom acoustics. Teachers use their voices for about 60% of their workday. Talking in a loud classroom strains the teacher’s voice and may lead to voice problems.

Improving Classroom Acoustics

It is important to reduce background noise and reverberation in any space used for learning. To learn more, see Tips for Creating a Good Listening Environment. For more detailed information on classroom acoustics, visit ASHA’s Practice Portal.

Other Resources

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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