Toddlers surrounded by background noise at home and at school have a harder time learning new words according to studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
Researchers found that toddlers aged 22 to 30 months were better able to learn new words when the background noise was the quietest. Children were able to overcome the effects of the increased background noise if they had language cues that helped their learning.
When children are learning new words with background noise, they can have a hard time tuning out the background noise to focus on the new words.
At home, daycare, pre-school, and school, it is impossible to avoid background noise like music, television, washing machine, dishwasher or street noise. When talking to your child with these types of sounds in the background, try to turn down the volume, close doors or change rooms if possible. If that isn’t an option, then be sure you are looking at your child when speaking and provide visual cues like pointing to help express your point. If you’re reading a story to your child, be sure to point to the pictures in the book and make sure your child’s eyes are looking at the page.
As always, you will want to protect your child’s hearing from sustained loud noises like motorcycles, lawn mowers, snowmobiles, personal headsets and subways. Continued exposure to those types of sounds can lead to noise-induced hearing loss.
If you have any concerns about your child’s hearing, contact your pediatrician or an audiologist. If you have concerns about your child’s speech-language development, contact SpeechWorks.
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC, a provider of on-site speech therapy in Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Hartland, Dousman, Delafield, Watertown, and Ixonia. SpeechWorks helps children become confident communicators and empowers parents to be advocates for their children.