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Study Without Stress

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Parental guide to stress-free study for children of all ages

“In a rapidly changing and increasingly challenging world, the basic survival skills for children centre on the ability to learn, effectively dealing with information, and surfing the knowledge-​tsunami without being overpowered by it,” says academic, child psychologist and author, Dr Deon van Wyk.

Based on this premise, his popular book and guide, Study without Stress, provides a valuable toolkit for parents to assist their children in not only developing proper learning skills to meet the demands of scholastic performance, but also in coping with future demands in the market place.

On request, Study without Stress (which was first published in 1988, followed by several reprints) was updated, and the revised edition printed in hard copy as well as an eBook in 2015.


Besides dealing in detail with all the skills – such as study, exam writing, reading, mathematical and communication skills, as well as emotional IQ – that children need to develop in order to cope in an increasingly competitive school, university and working environment, Van Wyk also provides various guidelines for parents to assist their children in cultivating a positive study attitude towards learning and schoolwork.

The role of the brain and intelligence, the study method and programme, other life skills, and the various levels at which parents should ideally be involved in with their children also come under the spotlight.

Increasing pressure

Says Van Wyk: “Undoubtedly, the volume and complexity of schoolwork our children have to deal with today are light-​years removed from what we, as parents, had to deal with. This puts tremendous pressure on both parents and children, especially as the current economic climate necessitates dual-​career households. It is therefore imperative that children, right from their earliest years, develop both a positive attitude towards studying and gathering knowledge and the right study methods to meet the demands of current syllabuses.”

Alas, more often than not this is not the case, he adds. “By far the majority of children primarily memorise their work, despite the fact that studies show that 70% of the work learnt this way, is forgotten within 24 hours. This translates into a mere 30 out of 100 facts that can actually be recalled. This, in particular, inspired me to provide parents with the necessary guidelines to help their children in their development of a positive study approach as well as study methods.”

Changing workplace
A rapidly changing world and workplace was another determining factor for writing this book, Van Wyk points out. “Ongoing change will not only be synonymous with the future; going forward, change will most likely gather speed. Individuals will therefore have to learn to maintain themselves and act creatively in a world of constant flux. Within this context they will also have a greater responsibility to personally give direction to their lives,” Van Wyk believes.

He adds that when one searches for “top jobs” on Google, you will find titles such as “Ten jobs that did not exist 10 years ago” and “Five high-​paying jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago”.

“On the other hand, it is also reported that 47% of the jobs in the USA, as we know it today, are at risk from automation. This especially applies to low-​skilled jobs and will increasingly spread to middle class jobs. Should you, however, consult the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Handbook, growth rates of 30% or more over the next 10 years for familiar job titles as diverse as brick mason and dental hygienist are projected. Undoubtedly therefore, while some jobs are here to stay, many jobs will disappear and new jobs will be created,” says Van Wyk.

Problems facing pupils, parents

Van Wyk believes one of the biggest problems facing pupils these days, is the large amount of school work already at primary school level and the stress it places on households. Further complicating the matter, is the full extra-curricular programme that limits study time even more. Ignorance and uncertainty as to how to deal with this problem, therefore succumbing to the obvious solution of putting pressure on their children to perform, more often than not result in strained parent/child relations.

“During my years as a practising psychologist, it was always very touching to see, hear and experience the tension between parents and their child because of academic underperformance, their anxious cry for help to assist their child; the disappointment of the child not being able to register at a university or technikon for the necessary qualification to embark on a really interesting and desired career,” says Van Wyk.

Another big problem is that the children are no longer equipped with the necessary reading skills. “Imparting the skill of speed reading and retention in children is more often than not sorely neglected and urgently needs to be addressed. This can best be achieved through a collaborative approach between teachers and parents, based on the curriculum and within the context of tried and tested study methods. Most teachers are well equipped to teach their subject with enthusiasm and insight so that it resonates with their pupils. Ideally, parents should then replicate and synergistically continue with this process at home,” he concludes.  

Study without Stress is published by Lelapa Trust. The recommended retail price is R148 (excluding VAT). The book is available at most bigger book stores in the country. A comprehensive list of stockists is available on the Study without Stress Facebook page.

About the author
Dr Deon van Wyk graduated from the University of Stellenbosch where he subsequently lectured for 11 years.

After obtaining his doctorate in psychology, he accepted a position at the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), currently the University of Johannesburg (UJ), where he served as vice-director of the Institute for Child and Adult Guidance. He was later appointed professor at the Department of Psychology, with child psychotherapy one of his areas of specialisation.

Besides ‘Study without Stress’, Van Wyk has also written ‘Die verhouding tussen ouer en kind’ (The relationship between parent and child).


Martie, July 17, 2015

“At first I did not read the book because I was already following my own method of studying and was not really in the mind-set of changing it. Eventually, I decided to discuss it with the author. The way the content of the book was explained to me, not only blew my mind, I also discovered the accuracy of the book.

“Today I study with the ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’ method; it helps me understand what I am studying, the order and the reasoning. It makes it more organised and structural - at least that is how it works for me. Unlike my former way of studying, which often left me confused as to what I have actually learnt before, I find that if I use this method, I can come back to my notes after a couple of months to study for my finals for example, and I would still understand what I wrote or studied earlier.

“This is a book truly worth reading. The information is accurate and it helped me feel a lot less stressed and more in control during busy school months.”

Martha Greyvenstein, March 23, 2016
“I was a teacher for more than 33 years. If I were teaching today, I would recommend Study without Stress to every parent. No, I would make it compulsory reading. Though we address study skills at schools, we do not have the time, due to syllabi pressures, to coach each and every child into mastering the necessary learning skills. Dr Van Wyk rightly says, with reference to the brain: ‘Use it or lose it’. I have seen so many children “lose it” because inquisitiveness of mind and proper learning skills were never addressed at home. Study without Stress informs parents step-​by-​step ‘how to do it’, ‘how to use it’.

Estelle, October 13, 2015
“I have been a schoolteacher for many years. A positive attitude towards learning starts early and should be ignited at home. At school we can only build on a positive attitude and excite children about learning by unlocking the wonder of science.  Though we introduce children to proper study methods, we do not have the time to fine-​tune these skills in children individually. This is primarily the parent’s responsibility. As a teacher, I will recommend this book to all parents whose children are in my class. It is an easy-to-read and very interesting book clearly highlighting what parents can do to help their children.”

Sumien, October 7, 2015
“In a modern society filled with instant gratification and a plethora of online ‘facts’, children are increasingly under pressure to perform better and faster. Old fashioned hard work and diligence have made way for a quick online search. In my medical practice, I have seen a vast increase in the prevalence of childhood depression and anxiety, with deteriorating school performance in every case.  In ‘Study without stress’, Deon van Wyk goes back to empirical basics with practical examples and fundamental principles.

“In this eye-​opening lifeline to your child’s academic success, he touches on everything from parent-​child relational aspects and emotional intelligence to attitudinal fundamentals to academic success. Whether or not you believe your child experiences stress whilst doing schoolwork, this compelling book is a must-read that will benefit all parents.”

Dr Karina de Bruin,  MD, JvR Academy
“While studying to qualify as a counselling psychologist in the early 1990s, I discovered Deon van Wyk's ‘Study without Stress’.   This book sparked a real interest in me to work with adolescents who experience academic and career decision difficulties. Not many years later, I was fortunate to cross Prof Van Wyk's path and witness true evidence of his passion for academic and learner development. With his latest publication, his lifelong interest in and dedication to this field are confirmed.

“In this book, Deon not only focuses on straightforward study methods, as is the case with many similar publications on this topic. He rather takes a holistic approach to learner development and includes discussions on a wide variety of factors that impact scholastic performance. These include guidelines to harnessing a positive attitude towards learning; emotional intelligence; communication skills; and finally an instruction to, above all, enjoy our children.
“This publication is a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, learners and other professionals who are passionate about helping learners optimise their performance and reach their potential.”

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