Feeling stuck on what to look for when you’re planning to buy your next pair of children’s school shoes? School
shoes are much more than a part of a child’s uniform or protection from the elements. By supporting good foot function, well-fitted
school shoes can reduce how tired your kids feet and legs get after a long day at school, lessen their risk of certain injuries or pains -
and may even help prevent problems like bunions, growing pains like Sever’s Disease, claw toes and ‘pump bumps’ at the back of
So what makes a ‘good’ school shoe and how do you know what is best for your child’s feet? Our Brisbane
podiatrists work extensively with children – here’s our guide to help you find the best school shoes for your kids from what’s
available in 2022.
Setting Up For Success: What To Do Before Going School Shoe Shopping
When you’ve committed to a day to go shopping for school shoes, there are a few must-do’s that will help make the selection
process much easier:
Choose an afternoon to shop – afternoons are better than mornings because feet
are at their biggest in the afternoon. When our feet spend a day inside closed-in school shoes, they get warm, and can slightly swell and
appear bigger. You can account for this natural difference in foot size by choosing to shop in the afternoon.
Have your kids available on the day – while some parents may opt to leave the kids at home and use an outline of their feet
to check for size to make the shoe buying experience simple and easy, doing this won’t tell you if the shoes feel comfortable, fit
well to the natural shape of their feet, or rub in any places. Your kids should come with you to try on their school shoes.
Have a pair of your kids school socks with you – and opt for their winter socks if the school has a different winter dress
code. It’s important that school shoes fit well and don’t cramp the foot when paired with thicker winter socks.
Check your child’s shoe regulations from their school – so you rule out certain shoes immediately if they don’t
meet the criteria.
Check which foot and toe is longer – most people have one foot that is slightly bigger than the other and kids are no
exception. Check to see if one of their feet is slightly bigger than the other by measuring the two. Next, check which toe is the longest -
many people are surprised to learn that it’s the second toe instead of the big toe. Then, when you’re evaluating shoe size on
shopping day, always double check the longest toe on the longer foot first.
School Shoe Shopping Day
Now that it’s shopping day, it’s time to know what features to look for that will best support your children’s feet
throughout the year. Our podiatrists recommend:
A firm heel counter – this is the part of the shoe immediately behind the heel and often has a stitch or seam in this area.
Heel counters should be strong to help control the movement at the heel and ankle, adding stability and helping control the position of the
foot. You can tell if a heel counter is strong by trying to push it in with your thumb – the material should stay upright and hold its shape
without flexing. This also explains why you shouldn’t ‘slip’ school shoes on, as over time it wears down the strength of
the heel counter.
Adjustable fastenings (laces/velcro) – the fastenings determine how much control you can have over the fit of the shoe -
which is very important! Laces and velcro are preferable as they give the best control. Buckles with predetermined holes also give a decent
level of control. Slip-ons give no control so we recommend avoiding these.
The right width – alongside checking the length, check the width by running your fingers along the sides of the shoe,
particularly the outside, looking for any bulging. Having shoes that are too narrow can cause rubbing and pain, foot cramps and may even
lead to bunions. Shoes that are too wide won’t be well secured to your foot, which can lead to friction, blisters and other damage.
Ankle support – the height of the shoe around the ankle should sit comfortably below the bony protrusions (malleoli) and
help stabilise the ankle. If the sides of the shoes are too high, they may rub, be uncomfortable and cause pain.
Comfortable and protective toe box – the toe box is where you check for sufficient room and length, based on the longest
foot and longest toe. A toe box that is too small can cramp the toes and a toe box that is too big can lead to the foot slipping within the
shoe. The toe box also serves to help protect the toes, so make sure it doesn’t bend easily inwards when pressed on.
Strong, reinforced shank – the shank describes the middle of the sole of the shoe, adding to the stability and life of the
shoe, supporting healthy foot function, and helping prevent the shoe from unnaturally bending in the middle – just like how our feet do not
naturally bend in the middle of the foot.
Comfortable, supportive and removable insoles – the insoles that come in the shoe should be comfortable, supportive through
the arch, and removable – so that if your child needs orthotics at any point, they can easily replace the current innersole without needing
Lightweight – heavy shoes can weigh feet down and contribute to tired and achy legs. Opt for lightweight materials where
Quality materials – we can’t expect kids to take it easy on their school shoes, so instead, we’ve got to choose
shoes that are durable – and ideally breathable and will hold up in wet weather. We like natural uppers like leather for these qualities.
Leather can also be protected and even repaired. Synthetic leathers can also be hard wearing and water resistant.
Where Can You Find The Best School Shoes In Brisbane?
While we stock a range of fantastic women’s and men’s shoes in our clinic, we don’t stock children’s shoes – yet. Some of
our favourite stores to shop for school shoes include:
- The Athlete’s Foot
- Rebel Sport
- Shoes & Sox
- Mathers (stock Colorado & Clarks shoes)
Best School Shoe Brands & Styles
While we do have some favourite brands and styles that tend to possess good school shoe features, it’s important to remember that
every foot is different – and there is no one shoe that will fit everyone perfectly. This is why it’s so important to remember to
always try on the shoe, check all the good shoe characteristics regardless of the brand you’ve chosen, and ensure the shoe feels
comfortable and the foot feels supported. Here are some school shoe brands and styles that our podiatrists love.
Podiatrist: Lawrence Taufahema
Shoe style recommendation: Colorado Solar or Roar SNR
“I’ve always been hard on shoes and as a child my parents needed to invest in a durable shoe otherwise we would be buying a pair a
term and the dollars added up more had they just invested in a durable pair in the first place. The Colorado Solar or the Roar SNR are not
only endorsed by The Australian Podiatry Association but they’re durable for a lunchtime play, presentable for formal occasions, and
compliments a school uniform. I would also suggest having another pair of shoes for sport to ensure both pairs last the year or at least
until your child’s foot grows.”
Podiatrist: Stephanie Bain
Shoe style recommendation: Ascent Scholar
“School shoes are the most important shoe your child will wear as this will be the shoe they spend the majority of their time in.
The Ascent Scholar is
a great option as the Ascent brand is known for creating ‘sports shoes in disguise’. The Ascent Scholar is a lightweight and
comfortable shoe packed with support from the heel through the midfoot but also has an ample amount of cushioning and responsiveness. It has
structure and flexibility in the right places making it a perfect option for your active child. The shoe comes in multiple sizes and widths,
has an extra eyelet in the lacing system to allow for the ankle lock lacing technique and is deep enough (with a removable insole) to
accommodate for a custom foot orthotic if necessary. The shoe is super durable and your child is most likely going to outgrow the shoe
before it wears out.”
Podiatrist: Cristina Smundin
Shoe style recommendations: Ascent Apex
“The Ascent Apex is a straight-lasted shoe, which encourages a neutral foot posture for your child. I like that this style of shoe
can accommodate various widths of feet, ranging from standard D width to 2E width. The shoe has a firm heel counter, removable insole
(essential if your child is wearing orthotics), and durable leather upper for everyday use. You can find the Ascent Apex at The
Athlete’s Foot Stores and Blackwoods. The Ascent Apex retails for $119.99.”
After You’ve Purchased Your School Shoes
First thing’s first: set a note in your calendar for six months’ times to review the fit and the condition of your child’s
school shoes, assessing if they need any repairs or a bigger pair.
Next, once the school shoes are home, we recommend taking a week to gradually wear them in at home. Start with one hour around the house and
increase by an hour each day. If they can wear their school shoes for five or six hours comfortably, it means the material has naturally
adjusted for the demands of their feet and they are good to go!
Unsure If Your Child Needs New School Shoes Yet?
If you’re unsure, always check, or bring their shoes in with them to their next appointment and our
podiatrists can take a look. While it’s easy to presume that the shoes are still the right fit, a survey of over 2000 parents showed
that 2 in 3 kids were wearing the wrong sized shoes – some up to two sizes too small. With over 1200 hours spent in school
shoes a year – this can quickly lead to preventable pain and foot problems.
Worried About Your Child’s Feet?
If you’re concerned about your child’s feet, our experienced podiatry team is here to help. We love working with children and
helping them stay active and happy on their feet. Book your appointment with our Brisbane
or call us on 1300 993 338