Kids’ School Shoes: What To Look For, What To Avoid

Kids’ School Shoes: What To Look For, What To Avoid

They’ll be wearing them six hours a day, five days a week. So what should you look for in a pair of kids’ school shoes to ensure they’re comfy and last the distance? And what should you be avoiding?

Here, Stewart Hayes, board member of the Australian Podiatry Association and director of Orthotic Solutions Podiatry reveals his best tips to find perfect fitting kids’ school shoes …

Sidestep the sales pitch

As Goldilocks says, look for a shoe that is not to hard, and not too soft … (well, it was similar to that!). Why? This can sometimes translate to ‘stiff and inflexible’ or  ‘not supportive at all’.

“Be wary of sales pushes promoting ‘hardwearing’ or ‘super cushioned’ shoes,” advises Stewart.  You’re better going for a shoe somewhere in the middle, with what Stewart refers to as ‘structured cushioning’.

“It’s important that shoes have some structure, such as a cushioned sole with great shock absorption – especially on school grounds that are asphalt or concrete, as these can be taxing on little feet and legs.”

To find the middle ground, Stewart say look for a shoe that replicates the foot’s natural movements. “The shoe should flex at the ball of the foot and twist a bit at the mid-section,” he says. “If you can completely bend a shoe in half at the midsection when it’s brand new, it’s going to be even less supportive after two or three months wear.”

Get fitted by pro’s

Stewart recommends getting fitted by an experienced shoe store attendant to ensure both length and width fit correctly, and warns against buying shoes too big to allow for growth. “Buying shoes that are bigger can become a trip hazard, especially for running children.”

Kids’ School Shoes: What To Look For, What To Avoid

Clarks have an extensive range of school shoes designed and fitted in Australia. Image: Clarks

Weigh up synthetic (sneakers) versus leather accordingly

When it comes to leather versus synthetic, what is best? “If your child’s school allows for the black runner style school shoes, go for these – especially if your child is running around a lot,” Stewart recommends. “However, some schools won’t allow for runners, even black leather ones. If that’s the case for you, leather is a better option than synthetic as it’s generally more breathable and hardwearing. That said, technology has come a long way, and there are many fantastic synthetic materials that breathe just as well. Do some research before you head out as it will save you time and money.”

Choose Velcro, laces and buckles according to your child’s age

As for Velcro, buckles or laces, Stewart says laces are the most supportive pick – but there is a time and a place for each according to your child’s developmental stage.

“Laces provide better support when it comes to holding feet in place,” explains Stewart. “However, Velcro and buckles are good options for younger kids who can’t do up their laces up yet.”

With special thanks to Stewart Hayes from Orthotic Solutions Podiatry  for his advice. Main Image: Clarks

Which brand school shoes did you choose and why? Share your tips in the comments section below!


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  1. May 24, 2018 / 11:36 pm

    I’ve considered getting my kids sneakers fitted by professionals. I just wonder if it’s really worth it? Feels like they’ll just out grow them in a couple months anyway…

    • May 25, 2018 / 12:28 am

      Hi Catherine, I had my son’s sneakers fitted at The Athletes Foot and that’s when they alerted me to a roll – I didnt even realise there was an issue! So I’m glad I did get them done by pro’s. It’s free at The Athlete’s Foot – they have a special machine that analyses your foot as you walk over it. Check it out. wont do any harm!

  2. December 22, 2017 / 10:18 pm

    I like your article about kids school shoes.I just stumbled upon your article and wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your article.I would be interesting to see new interesting updates.

    • December 22, 2017 / 11:56 pm

      Thanks james! Schools out so no rush to buy them now!