The Auditory Environment
A group of young children will naturally be loud as they interact, play and explore their environment. Too much auditory stimulation leads to sensory overload, which occurs when sensory information overwhelms the brain and nervous system. In this type of environment, children often melt down as their nervous systems are less able to process appropriately. Educators too will lose their cool when experiencing sensory overload. Read 3 tips for reducing noise overload in the classroom.
Model Quiet Voices
Model talking to children in a regular conversation voice, in close proximity to them. Calling across the classroom is tempting, but it encourages children to do the same. When children’s voices are loud, model quieter speaking or even whispering. During large group time, demonstrate quiet speaking, rather than raising your voice to get everyone’s attention. The children will respond with quietness to hear what you have to say. Also, take into account the tone of your voice as you speak, to create a calm response. If children are using loud voices, encourage them to move closer to one another and demonstrate a conversation voice, supporting self-regulation development.
Provide a Balance of Hard & Soft Materials
Hard floors, walls and tables create surfaces for sound to bounce off of and amplify sound. Create areas with soft furnishings such as rugs, sound-absorbing panels, furniture with cushions, fabric window coverings and pillows. Providing a balance of hard and soft materials meet children’s sensory needs and helps soften noise in the environment. Provide a balance of quiet and calm centers and louder, more active centers within your classroom. Consider creating a Calming Corner to teach children self-regulation skills.
Intentionally Use Music
While children enjoy music, avoid playing music non-stop during the day. Everyone responds to music differently. Avoid adding to the auditory noise of your classroom with music. Instead, use music and movement activities for deliberate learning experiences. Continuous background music, even instrumental selections can add to the auditory noise of a classroom. Transitions using music will be more effective when music is used intentionally.