‹‹ Return to all Child Growth & Development resources

Cut out the noise to support healthy toddler vocabulary development

Have you ever been trying to read a good book or focus on an activity, when you keep getting distracted by background noise? Your ability to concentrate may be hampered by sounds of music and people chatting in the coffee shop, or your family watching television in the adjoining room. While this may prove difficult for you, a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that too much background noise may hurt toddlers' chances of learning new vocabulary words.

Researchers studied 106 children from the ages of 22 to 30 months, testing each in three experiments where they were taught names for unfamiliar objects and then scored on their ability to later recognize these items when labeled. The researchers repeated the experiment with varying amounts of background noise to test how it affected the children's ability to learn. The results showed that the participants who learned words in a quieter setting acquired the vocabulary more easily.

Brianna McMillan, a doctoral student in psychology who led the study, explained that homes and schools today are full of distracting noises, such as TV, talking, radio and more. McMillan said that adults should be conscious of the amount of background noise that is present in the environment where they are interacting with toddlers and other young children. 

As an early childhood education instructor, you want the best for your students. While there is a time and place for children to get excited and create noise, you don't want to hinder their growth. To support your students in healthy vocabulary development, here are a few strategies for keeping the noise levels in your classroom at a minimum:

Create a "quiet time" rhyme or song
At a young age, children respond well to music and rhymes. If you want to quiet down an unruly or loud classroom of toddlers, you may want to consider creating a "quiet time" rhyme or song to get them excited and to lower their voices. For example, a teacher can say "1, 2, 3, eyes on me..." whenever the noise level rises, and expects the students to pay attention. Or, a more interactive method is to sing or play a "quiet down" song where students are encouraged to participate and then grow silent. While it may take time for them to learn, students may grow to excitedly anticipate the rhyme or song.

Use a hand signal or gesture
Some teachers use a hand signal or gesture to show students that their noise level has gotten too high. For example, you can raise three fingers or clap your hands, where you expect your students to respond with the same gesture or movement and get quiet. 

Check out our course on learning languages for more tips on child development. At ProSolutions Training, we offer plenty of online child care courses for professionals who wish to know more about their field and child development. Contact us today to learn more!