Whether it’s the start of a brand-new school year, or it’s halfway through and the kids have had a growth spurt (or lost their shoes!), buying shoes for school can leave some of us feeling a little overwhelmed.
There are so many styles to look at, questions about the right sizing, and personal preferences to consider!
Thankfully, with a few key pieces of advice and insider tips, the whole shoe-buying process can actually be quite simple and pain-free!
If the shoe fits….
How many pairs of shoes do your kids have? A few pairs for school? Thongs for summer? Tap shoes for dance? Football boots?
Often it is their school shoes that get the most wear and tear. Between the mud, sand and sweat, kids just love to put them through their paces at school, don’t they?!
So, if you want to ensure comfort and support for your kids (as well as value for money for yourself!) then let’s look at why it is so important to take some time in choosing the right shoe.
- Firstly, this is the shoe that they will be wearing for most of the year so it’s important to find shoes that are comfortable, and that offer the right level of support.
- Next, a good quality school shoe that has been fitted correctly provides firm, supportive protection for their feet while they're growing. This support and stability are so important to help prevent flat feet, back pain, shin splints, or sore knees.
- What is also worth noting is the benefit a quality shoe can have on a child’s comfort, which can often correlate with their ability to concentrate at school, have fun, and feel relaxed.
- And, while it’s always recommended that your child goes for a walk around the shop in the shoe, if you are looking to buy online, the good news is that online stores now have a fitting gauge available to purchase online, which can allow parents to get an accurate fit at home.
So, we can all agree on why a well-fitted shoe is important. Now let’s look at how to choose and fit a perfect pair of school shoes.
The difference between expensive and cheap school shoes
While it can be tempting to go for the cheaper shoes – using the theory that because kids grow quickly, you’ll only need to replace them soon anyway – often the maths often shows otherwise.
But aside from cost, the difference between cheap and expensive shoes is usually the quality of support from the heel counter right through to the sole of the shoe.
Cheap shoes usually also mean cheap materials that deteriorate over time or fall apart quickly. Having said that, more expensive does not automatically mean more quality! It pays to shop around and research the brands that offer quality at an affordable price point for you.
5 tips from podiatrists when choosing school shoes
Synxbody CEO and podiatrist Rachael Ferguson has this advice, “The features you need to look for are a strong heel counter, flexing only at the toe box and a nice firm sole that doesn’t bend in half when you try to fold it.”
- Make sure the heel counter is nice and firm
The best way to check this, is to place your thumb halfway down the back of the shoe and press - if you can fold the shoe in this area, then it's not supportive enough.
The second thing to look for is that it doesn’t bend between the base of the heel and the shoe - if you can bend this part of the shoe in half, it's not supportive enough for arch of the foot.
The third way to check for a strong heel counter is to put one hand on the back of the shoe and the other hand on the front of the shoe and fold to see that the shoe bends at the ball of the foot rather than bending in half.
If the shoes can bend in the wrong places, or is floppy, choose another shoe with a sturdier sole and heel counter.
- Laces, not Velcro
When it comes to kids’ school shoes, laces are best, but velcro can be a great option for little ones who are still learning to tie their own shoes.
Avoid shoes with elastic fastenings as they tend to deteriorate quickly, leaving the shoe floppy and lacking support.
- Use the ‘thumb check’ method
While you want the shoes to fit correctly, and not leave too much room for the feet to slip, we do also know that kids grow at lightning speed. One day they just seem to shoot up in height or foot size!
Therefore, we do recommend using the “thumb check” method.
How to do the thumb check: when your child is standing in the shoes, ask them to tap their heel to ensure it is firmly positioned in the back of the shoe and then check and make sure there is a thumb width space from the big toe to the end of the shoe. In the event the second toe is longer than the big toe, just use the second toe to measure the thumb width space.
- Use insoles to support your child’s growth
Insoles can fit into a wide range of footwear, including school, casual and sporting shoes. At SynxBody we recommend you buy insoles first, then the school shoes.
They have the benefit of providing optimal cushioning and support for your child’s feet and can also offer extra shock absorption whilst maintaining flexibility.
SynxBody offer a range of kids' insoles with an anti-slip cover, reducing any slip within the shoe and maximises comfort, plus you can trim to size for an accurate fit into the child’s footwear.
- Measure BOTH feet
Always have both of your child's feet measured – it’s not uncommon to have one foot bigger than the other. So, it pays to measure both feet and then, if necessary, adjust the sizes of the shoes you purchase.
KIDS SHOES WE RECOMMEND
Black School Shoes
Top Picks – supportive & durable (these should last the full school year)
- Ascent – available at The Athletes Foot
- Clarks – available at Myer Shoes & Sox / The Athletes Foot
- Airflex – available at Betts
Value for money (these may need to be replaced throughout the school year)
Ready to get organised for back to school?
Take advantage of our Back to School Sale with 15% off Synxsole and Synxlace (only until 31 January 2022).