Well, it’s that time of the year again and there is so much to think about ….. uniforms, book lists, lunchboxes, timetables, sport shoes and, of course, school shoes. I’m lucky now that I only have to buy one pair but it wasn’t all that long ago (when all three girls were still at school) that I had to budget for three pairs. School shoes have always been a priority for me because kids are incredibly active and will spend many hours every day in their shoes, so it’s important that their shoes fit well, are comfortable, offer the right kind of support and also leave a little bit of room for their feet to grow. Selecting the right shoes can also prevent some problems like ingrown toenails and blisters from developing.
So here are my top tips for buying school shoes:
- Brand new is preferable. As tempting as it may be to save a few dollars and use either second hand shoes or hand-me-downs, it is likely those shoes won’t fit perfectly, may be well worn and therefore offer little or no support.
- Buy the best quality you can afford. School shoes are expensive, so I want them to last as long as possible and be able to withstand all that the kids put them through, so I tend to spend a little more and buy great quality shoes like Clarks.
- Find a brand that comes in the widest variety of sizes. I try to stick to brands that offer half-sizes and a wide variety of widths, as that will ensure the kids get the best fit possible.
- Check your Schools Dress Code. Before purchasing any shoes, check to see what style and colour of shoe is acceptable at your school.
- Always take your school socks when buying school shoes. I always take a pair of the actual socks that they will wear with their school shoes as this also helps to get a perfect fit.
- Have the kids feet professionally fitted. I always buy school shoes either from a footwear store or larger department stores like Myer or David Jones. In my experience, the staff have been specifically trained to fit school shoes. It’s also easier to return the shoes to larger department stores if I have any issues with them.
- Don’t buy shoes that are TOO big. I always worried that the kids would hurt themselves or be terribly clumsy if their shoes were too big and didn’t fit properly. Shoe fitters have always suggested that the space between the tip of their big toe (or biggest toe) and the end of the shoe should be about the width of your thumb. This way their toes won’t be squashed and they also have sufficient room for growth. I have also been told that they should be able to wriggle their toes freely and the shoe should hold their heel comfortably in place. A good test in store is to ask your child to go for a little walk in the shoes. The shoe should not “slip” on their feet when they do this.
- Always try on both shoes. Very few people have two feet that are identical in terms of width and length and that was certainly the case with all three of my girls. I was always advised to select the size that best fitted the larger foot.
- Try on several brands or styles, if possible. I got Miss 16 to try on a couple of different brands. Some shoes are more comfortable than others and trying on a couple of different brands and styles helped her find the best fit for her.
- Don’t buy shoes that are too heavy. I’ve found in the past that if school shoes are too heavy and chunky, the kids complain of sore, tired feet. I find the kids are far more comfortable in a light-weight shoe and, even though it may not be as fashionable, it’s more important to be practical.
- Buy a shoe with a removable insole. A lot of today’s school shoes have this feature. It helps to get a better fit and also potentially lengthens the life of the shoe as the insole can be removed for comfort as the child’s foot grows.
- Buy shoes at the end of the day. Kids feet will often swell throughout the day, particularly in the heat, so it’s best to shop for school shoes at the end of the day when their feet are biggest and you’ll be guaranteed a better fit.
- Avoid slip on-shoes. Shoes with straps, laces or Velcro offer more support. The muscles of the foot have to work extra hard to keep a slip-on shoe on the foot. Velcro is also a wonderful option for younger children as it’s easier for them until they learn to tie their shoelaces.
- Check the shoe for defects. As well as getting a great fit, closely examine the shoes before purchase to make sure there are no obvious faults. I always check the sole is well attached, that all the stitching is undamaged and there are no obvious issues with the tongue or lace holes of the shoe.
- Keep an eye out for “Back to School” specials. School shoes are expensive and any savings are always a bonus. This year, Myer has a sale offering 25% off school shoes, which for one pair meant a saving of around $30.
- Consider what the shoes are made of. I have always purchased leather school shoes. I’ve found they are more durable and last longer. They also tend to be more comfortable as they mould better to the shape of my kids feet. They also tend to be not as hot as they are not a synthetic product.
- Think about WHEN to buy School shoes. I find early January is a good option. It’s not so early that they will grow too much. Leaving it until later means you may miss out on sizes and the kids also miss the opportunity to wear the shoes in for a couple of weeks at home.
- Make sure new school shoes get “worn in”. New shoes can take a little time to wear in and school shoes are no different. I always got my kids to wear them around the house in the weeks leading up to the start of the school term, increasing the length of time they wore them each day. This gives the kids a chance to get comfortable, for the shoes to become a bit more flexible and to also reduce the likelihood of blisters. Ouch!
- Look after your school shoes. Now that you’ve found the perfect school shoe it’s important to look after it. Stay tuned, coming soon will be a post about caring for your children’s school shoes.
So tell me, what are the key features you consider when buying school shoes?