Buying School Shoes – What You Should Know

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Buying school shoes what to look for

Buying School Shoes – What You Should Know

With my daughter starting Prep in less than a week (wow how did that happen?!) we recently went through the experience of needing to buy her school shoes.

Most of her shoes in the past had been chosen based on their colour, whether they had sparkles or if they lit up. But knowing that she will be wearing these shoes for more than 30 hours a week and be doing up to 16,000 steps a day,  it was important for me to make sure she had shoes that were fitted properly.

Here is what I learned and what you should know when buying school shoes.

Check the school dress code

Before you head to the store make sure you are across any restrictions the school might have in place about what type of shoe is accepted.

They might need to be a particular colour, have laces or some other requirement that will affect the options you can choose from.

Get both feet measured

Most children, as adults too, will have one foot that is longer than the other. So if only one is measured and it happens to be the smaller one it can make for an uncomfortable pair of shoes.

Don’t make the mistake of buying shoes that are too large and waiting for them to “grow into them”, as this can lead to injuries.

Take along the correct socks

Make sure you have purchased the school socks they will be wearing and use them when your child is being fitted. If they have orthotics than make sure they are taking along to the shoe fitting as well.

Take along the socks your child will wear to school

Prepare for regular replacements

Even though a quality pair of shoes can be hardy enough to last the full school year, because a child’s foot grows about half a size every six months, the fit might not be right over a long period of time. If your child has a growth spurt in the year, their foot size can easily jump up a full size.

As a rule, it’s recommended to do a size check at these intervals:

  • One to three months up to the age of three
  • Every four months up to the age of five
  • Every six months until your child stops growing completely

Avoid second-hand shoes

While it can be tempting to save some money and use an older siblings shoes or purchase a pair second hand, unfortunately, this is not recommended.

A worn shoe will have moulded to the shape of the previous wearer’s foot and could lead to problems with your children’s feet such as weakened muscles and ligaments resulting in poor posture and balance. So in this case new is best.

Skip slip-on shoes

For prep kids, it can be tempting to opt for slip-on shoes to allow them the independence of putting them on and off themselves. But podiatrists do not recommend them for long-term use. Lace-up, velcro and buckle-up shoes are all better options to stick to.

Buy shoes in the afternoon

I usually head to the shops of a morning as my kids are generally better behaved then. But it is best to head out in the later afternoon when you are shoe shopping. As your child’s feet get a little more swollen as the day goes one. That way you are getting the shoes fitted when their feet are at their largest.

feet can swell
Go shopping in the afternoon as feet can swell

Choose quality

Better quality shoes will not wear down as easily. Look for soles made of rubber, leather uppers and double stitching around the toe area to give the shoes a longer life.

Wear the shoes before school starts

If you have just bought new shoes for your child, make them pop them on right now. After summer holidays most kids have been getting around barefoot or in thongs and sandals. So wearing the new school shoes for an hour or so a day can help your child get used to them. This is particularly important for Prep students.

Ensure the right fit

Choice offers some great tips on what to check for to ensure the right fit.

  • Toes shouldn’t touch the end of the shoe. The ideal gap is approximately half a thumb width from the end of the longest toe to the end of the shoe.
  • Check the shoes are both wide and deep enough – if you can see the outline of the foot squashed up against the shoe then it’s not right.
  • Shoes should feel comfortable immediately and there shouldn’t be any pressure points or pain at all.
  • Flexibility in the front. Pick up the shoe and try to bend it by pushing the toe upwards. A good shoe will bend at the ball of the foot but no further. This allows the wearer to “push off” with their toes while keeping the back half of their foot stable and secure.
  • But not too much flexibility. Shoes that bend all over or are easily twisted don’t provide enough support.
  • Heels. A good school shoe will have a small heel. While this may sound counterintuitive, a low heel keeps the foot in a neutral position (unlike an entirely flat shoe, which can cause toes to “claw” when walking).
  • Not too heavy. Heavy shoes can mean muscle pain and foot aches, especially for little people.
  • The sock liner or insole should be soft and comfortable, made of an absorbent fabric to reduce sweating and be easily removed (should you need to replace it with an orthotic).

Have you purchased your kid’s new school shoes yet?


Katie -


Katie is the Managing Director and Editor of Mums of Brisbane. Most days will find her drinking copious amounts of coffee, cuddling her kids and trying not to step barefoot on lego. Katie lives in Beautiful Brisbane with her husband and four gorgeous children.