A Pilot Study on the Acoustic Environment in Early Childhood Centres

Stuart McLaren

New Zealand Acoustics, 24(4), pp.12- 19 . (2011).

A comprehensive study has investigated the sound exposure that children and teachers receive in childcare centres. A small extra study investigated the hearing acuity of teachers. Personal sound exposures were measured on 73 teachers in early childhood education centres and compared to the prescribed levels for workers in the health and safety in employment legislation. Twenty eight teachers in part-time (sessional) centres and 45 teachers in all day centres were tested over one or more working days. One staff member of a sessional centre and five of those in all day centres received noise exposures well in excess of the 100% maximum daily sound exposure permitted in the workplace. Standard hearing tests were conducted on a small group of 20 teachers including young adult workers and those nearing their retirement. There was a noticeable increase in hearing loss as age increased with significant loss evident in the older participants. Reverberation times were measured in 30 early childhood learning spaces with most of the centres exceeding the 0.4 - 0.6 seconds prescribed by the Australian and New Zealand standard for classrooms and learning spaces.