Measures to improve the learning environment

Landhuis with curved BASWA Phon acoustic ceiling
Reduce noise pollution with the right measures: Noise not only affects learning, it also affects health.

Noise in nurseries, kindergartens and schools not only reduces learning but also endangers the health of children, teachers and educators. Teachers consistently cite noise as the biggest stress factor in their profession. There are several ways to reduce noise pollution. These include building modifications and improved room design, as well as an adapted learning culture. Find out how noise in schools and kindergartens affects children and teachers, and how to effectively reduce noise levels in practice.


Causes of noise in nurseries, kindergartens and schools

There are many reasons for excessive noise levels in educational facilities. The children themselves are usually the biggest contributors. The back of a chair, a quiet conversation, occasional coughing and laughing, and the teacher’s voice can all combine to produce noise levels of up to 80 decibels.

Distracting noises from inside and outside:

  • Humming screens
  • PC & projector ventilation
  • Humming neon lights
  • From the nearby sports field
  • Neighbouring classrooms, outside classroom doors or windows
  • Traffic noise from a nearby road or building site

For children, teachers and educators, the interaction of all these sources of noise can be a serious long-term burden and can affect children’s development. By implementing targeted technical, organisational and pedagogical measures, it is possible to reduce the noise level and thus create more peace and quiet.

infographic about the effects of noise in classrooms

What are the consequences for students and teachers?

Humans do not show any habituation effect to noise. On the contrary, noise is perceived as more and more stressful with increasing age. The effects of high noise levels are drastic: children’s ability to concentrate decreases significantly.

Speech development, especially in younger children, can be significantly impaired. Poor acoustics have been shown to have a negative impact on speech intelligibility, which can be very problematic for younger children.

Children sitting further back in the classroom often misunderstand words. If they do not understand individual sounds or words correctly, their limited language skills make it difficult for them to complete them independently. This means that, unlike adults, it is difficult for children to understand whole sentences when there is a lot of background noise. Children with learning difficulties or concentration problems, as well as children whose first language is not German, therefore have particular difficulties in noisy environments. Good classroom acoustics are therefore particularly important for this group of children.

  • Studies show that the performance of children and teachers in noisy classrooms is reduced by up to 25%.
  • Concentration & receptivity suffer from high noise levels
  • High noise levels also have a negative effect on teachers. Low morale and lack of motivation affect the way lessons are organised and can even lead to absenteeism due to illness.

What is the noise level in a classroom or nursery?

The sound level in a classroom is usually between that of a normal conversation and a loud conversation, which corresponds to a sound level of 60 to 70 dB(A). In primary schools, the levels are often higher at 70 to 75 dB(A).

Classrooms are often not acoustically designed for modern forms of teaching that use free and group work as a form of work. According to the DIN 18041 standard, which deals with audibility in small and medium sized rooms and gives guidelines, the reverberation time should not exceed half a second. The exact guide value is 0.55 s.

However, this is rarely the case, and if the reverberation time is too long, the reverberation effects will be very detrimental to speech intelligibility. In many cases, the reverberation time in schools is well above the recommended values for intellectual work spaces.

infographic comparing noise levels

When is the noise level too high?

If you switched on a vacuum cleaner in a classroom, the sound level would be around 70 dB(A). During breaks in gyms, workrooms and canteens, levels can be reached that would require hearing protection in an industrial setting.

Noise above 85 dB(A) is harmful to hearing. If a noise level of more than 85 dB(A) is permanently present in common rooms, the school authority is in principle legally obliged to provide sufficient noise protection.

Noise control in nurseries, kindergartens & schools

A combination of technical and educational measures can effectively improve the acoustics in nurseries, kindergartens & schools.


Technical noise reduction measures

First and foremost, the professional installation of acoustic ceilings and walls makes a significant contribution to reducing noise levels through sound absorption. Other useful technical measures include

  • Installing carpeting in particularly noisy areas, such as corners of buildings.
  • Installing impact sound insulation, especially in areas with high play levels. Entrances to these areas should also be soundproofed.
  • Equip quiet rooms with soundproof doors.
  • Use modern, low-noise equipment in classrooms, from PCs to projectors. This includes the latest generation of low-noise fluorescent lighting.


Organisational and pedagogical measures to reduce noise

The basic requirement for less noise and more quiet is to maintain a friendly and quiet tone with each other, which includes keeping conversations at an appropriate volume. Whispering should be avoided as much as possible and only one person should speak at a time to improve the noise situation. Noise pollution can be reduced by a number of organisational and educational measures.


Suggestions for reducing noise in nurseries, kindergartens and schools

  • Agree on a ‘quiet time‘ when children work quietly and a ‘loud time‘ when children are allowed to be loud.
  • Agree on quiet signs. A triangle, a singing bowl or a visual sign can be valuable.
  • Ask for attention and wait for silence, rather than raising your voice against the noise
  • Make noise pollution visible, for example with a noise traffic light. The use of the traffic light should be accompanied by appropriate education.
  • All available spaces should be used to create opportunities for silence and retreat.
  • Move as many activities outdoors as possible.
  • Indoors, noisy activities should take place in soundproofed rooms where possible.
  • Restrict the number of children in certain areas of the school.
  • Work in small groups as much as possible
  • Making lunchtime as quiet as possible in nurseries and kindergartens Activate the answering machine to avoid telephone calls. Arrange pick-up times only outside lunchtime.
  • Separate meal times by forming groups of children to significantly reduce the noise level.
  • Self-criticism should sometimes be used to question one’s own volume.
  • Involve the children and ask them when it is too loud for them. In this way, children can gradually develop an understanding of noise.
  • Through conscious listening, differentiation and recognition of sounds in the context of listening support, children’s hearing and noise awareness can be improved and developed.
  • Voice training with children can help to relax the voice, improve breathing technique and achieve more intelligible pronunciation.


Improving room acoustics with furniture

In many cases, it is possible to achieve good classroom acoustics with simple measures. Here are some examples of how you can make a big difference to noise levels with little effort. Furnishings must, of course, comply with fire safety regulations:

  • Acoustic panels, which act as sound absorbers on the ceiling or walls. They are one of the most important measures for improving room acoustics.
  • Carpeting can reduce noise pollution by absorbing sound.
  • Sound-absorbing curtains can be helpful in front of wall elements between windows or in corner areas.
  • Cork boards reduce reverberation and can be used for presentations, for example.
  • Acoustic pictures have a sound-absorbing effect and can be used as design elements.
  • Furniture or shelving that reduces the reverberation time of a room, improving the room’s acoustics.
  • Felt glides on table and chair legs can significantly reduce the noise potential if there is no carpet in the classroom.
  • Door buffers can be used to prevent doors from banging loudly against walls.


Efficient sound absorption taken a step further: The benefits of BASWA products

Sound absorption is not the only consideration when choosing products: To meet fire safety requirements, the product should also be flame-retardant or flame retardant. The materials used should be suitable for allergy sufferers and ecologically safe. BASWA’s acoustic solutions meet these requirements and have even more advantages.

Thanks to the microporous surface, BASWA’s marble sand acoustic plaster achieves excellent Class A sound absorption values. We use natural materials for our acoustic systems. The materials we use have a recycled content of up to 94%. Our new product line BASWA Natural is an acoustic solution made from regional plant fibres. It is sustainable and combines efficient sound absorption with a healthy indoor environment.

With BASWA acoustic solutions, there are no limits to individual design. Acoustic ceilings and walls can be created in any desired look. Our acoustic systems are discreet and fit seamlessly into the architectural and design concept.


BASWA – more than efficient sound absorption against noise in nurseries, kindergartens and schools.

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