Earmuffs in Pre-school?

By Ken Collins 01/06/2010 5


I had promised the next blog would be my second part to the Leaky Homes blog, and it is on its way. However, this article in the Dominion Post caught the eyes of the team in our office.

Do we really need to put earmuffs on our pre-schoolers when they are at Playcentre or other Pre-school facilities?

While the intentions are admirable, to minimise any hearing damage to our wee youngsters in noisy environments.  The people in our office thought earmuffs in pre-schools was going a bit far.

We have recently been involved in refurbishing some pre-schools and assessed the issue of noise as a part of the design solution. As a result we had sound absorbing materials installed on the ceiling and on walls. Sound absorbing vinyl flooring is also now widely available, not to mention that carpet is also a good sound absorber. The location of activities was also considered.

Once the work had been completed there was a significant difference to the sound levels in the kindy, although we weren’t able quantify the difference without the use of a sound meter.

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So, while we agree that everyone (including the little ones) should wear hearing protection when engaged in noisy activity, like using power tools, watching motor racing, etc, we also see that good building design and selection of materials can create an environment that reduces potential problems.

Surely children wearing earmuffs in a pre-school would severely affect the way the teachers could interact with them, and in turn create a host of other problems? We see that it is far better to create an environment that is fit for people rather than the other way round.


5 Responses to “Earmuffs in Pre-school?”

  • I agree, I do think it’s going a little far. Perhaps we should simply quarantine all children, at home, in appropriately sterile, soundproofed, cushioned rooms…

    • Now where did we put the industrial strength cotton wool and bubble wrap?

      Actually on second thoughts, one of the guys has just yelled out that this would be more dangerous than sending his kids to pre-school. Not having a break from them at home, might endanger their health…. (where is the tounge in cheek smiley face on this thing?)

  • Fully agree that environmental modification should be the first step at reducing noise to safe levels. Many kids already struggle to hear at school due to otitis media (glue ear), so reducing noise levels so they can hear the teacher is a good thing! And to all the “going too far” folk, why shouldn’t children be afforded the same protection as adults when in noisy environments that meet the requirements for hearing protection? (choose your favourite standard).

    • The big difference that was discussed in my office (many of whom have children at pre-school) is that unlike using power tools or being at the race track, in a pre-school the children need to understand and interact with a teacher (and each other) in a learning environment. Wearing earmuffs would severly restrict the ability for the teacher and the children to communicate and interact with each other. This isn’t about not affording the same level of protection to children, it is about the law of unintended consequences, where the solution to solve one problem only causes another (sometimes greater) problem.