Does traffic noise outside your school ruin your concentration?


9th June 2022

NOISE pollution in schools makes it harder for kids to concentrate, shows a study in Barcelona, Spain.

Researchers recorded noise pollution levels from nearby traffic in 38 schools. They used sound level meters to measure the noise in decibels on the street, in school playgrounds and in classrooms.

They also regularly tested 2,680 schoolchildren aged 7-10 on their cognitive skills – that is, seeing how well the kids thought and figured things out.

Specifically, researchers looked at attention spans (how long someone focuses on something for) and working memories (small amounts of information we hold in our brain for a short time to do certain tasks).

They found that kids in schools with higher levels of noise pollution had worse cognitive abilities. For instance, when noise levels outside were just five decibels above average, children’s working memory was found to be 11.4% slower, while attention spans reduced by 4%.

Interestingly, the study found that noise peaks (short, loud noises such as a car horn) affected kids more than a loud but continuous noise.
That’s important because, right now, most rules that are put in place to reduce noise pollution are based on average decibels, and this study shows that doesn’t give the full picture.

The researchers hope their study, which was published in PLOS Medicine, will help give a clearer idea of the issues that need to be tackled to ensure lower noise levels around schools. Busy cities like London and Paris have made steps already to reduce noise pollution near schools.

Picture credit: iStock


Do you find it harder to concentrate at school when it’s noisy outside?


Leave a Reply

candyapple · 2 weeks ago

It does for me. When a loud truck goes racing past my school down the road, everyone looks up from their work at starts talking. It' very distracting.

jmmousie · 2 weeks ago

My school isn't noisy, so this doesn't really affect me.

lkb10 · 2 weeks ago

I find it more difficult to concentrate when there is more noise outside because my school is right next to a fire station and sometimes we can sirens going off

squeezjoos · 2 weeks ago

I put yes but there isNo traffic near my school however I think I would if there was

dolphin26 · 2 weeks ago

Yay! First to comment!

dolphin26 · 2 weeks ago

No I don't get disturbed when traffic passes by my school building even though we have 100% windows open. Well, only when there is a big problem and everyone starts beeping their horn like a maniac. It's really funny, when this happens, everyone gets out of their chairs and rushes to the window, while our teacher is screaming at us to sit down.

ivansp2011 · 2 weeks ago

We do not even have cars next to our school :)

chaem17 · 2 weeks ago

At my school we don't really have much traffic as we are not on the main road, but if there were to be traffic I think it would definitely distract me as everyone would turn to look at the cars instead of listening to the poor teacher.

mistywater · 1 week ago

My school doesn't have a major road outside it, but if someone is noisy in the playground under our window I get distracted. So yes kind of.

max1234 · 1 week ago

Yes because when my teacher is speaking and a motorcycle is passing by, I can’t hear. This also occurs when I am writing notes in my maths book. My classmates chattering… a large truck passing by… oh, just too much!

stingray1 · 1 week ago

We don't have lots of traffic passing by but I would hate it if there was. Its hard enough to concentrate with just the class noise going on!

flamingo27 · 1 week ago

Yes for me as my school is on a busy road and we keep windows open

mrbabyyoda · 6 days ago

Sometimes in class a police car comes past and everyone starts looking out the window distracting us from our lesson