WAUSAU Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – This is the first week off from school for many kids. While having no school is something a lot of students have been looking forward to for months, it can be difficult to adjust to all that free time.

“75% of these kids’ school days have been structured by the minute.”

When kids walk down the halls and leave their school on the last day, they’re also leaving behind structure. And many find the free time in summer isn’t all that.

“When the novelty wears off, they can feel listless, they can feel like they don’t know what they’re going to be doing. They can feel isolated.”

She says the socialization and structure are especially important for younger kids.

“You’re going to see this more often with younger kids than older kids and the reason I say that is because younger kids, they’re really used to that structure, and that immediate gratification that comes from, ‘oh I’m doing this thing and oh I’m doing the next thing.’”

Getting your kids involved in summer programming is one way you can help them with their mental health. About 200 kids are part of the Boys and Girls Club Wausau area in the summer.

“We do have a ton of kids that come in the summer to fulfill their time, providing that structure for them, a sense of belonging and that socialization.”

Luke Johnson is part of their youth development staff and he helps create programming.

“My favorite part of working with the kids is definitely getting to build relationships with them and see them grow.”

Mentors are there to support when teachers and counselors are off the clock for the summer.

“Throughout each day the staff here will incorporate any sort of social-emotional learning type of programming into what they are doing every day with the kids.”

She says the Boys and Girls Club provides kids with the socialization and sense of belonging they need while away from school.