Don’t leave it until last minute to buy school shoes, this period is the busiest time for Children’s Shoe shops. Choose a week day preferably, if you can and be prepared to experience a wait. A good shoe shop should have seating for those busy periods
Children spend the majority of the day at school and in school shoes. Whilst it may seem expensive, investing in a fitted pair of school shoes is so important for your child’s foot health. Our feet are one of the hardest working parts of our body and we only have 1 pair!!! They are at their most vulnerable from birth until teenage years and several studies suggest that between 50 and 70% of foot problems in later life have been caused by poorly fitting shoes in childhood.
Second -hand Shoes
Are not a good idea, they retain bacteria and have already taken on the shape of their previous wearer. This can result in rubbing and blistering. The shoe will not support the foot in the way that a newly fitted shoe should and may even impede the normal walking pattern of the new owner.
Choosing the Right School Shoe
Leather shoes are the product of choice as leather allows the foot to breathe naturally. Did you know a normal pair of feet, produce about a tablespoon of sweat each day? A leather shoe will allow evaporation of some of that perspiration. Man-made plastic materials may be a cheaper option but they don’t mould to the foot in the same way that a leather product will and rather like a rubber glove they increase perspiration, which can result in fungal infections and blistering.
An ideal school shoe should fit snugly around the heel and should be held securely to the foot by a strap or laces. There should be suitable length and depth to allow movement of the toes. When fitted a shoe fitter will look to provide approximately 150mm growing room from the length of the longest toe to the tip of the shoe. If a shoe is too long a child will trip.
Slip on shoes for boys and girls are notoriously difficult to fit and are not the best option for school shoes. A child will use their toes in a claw like manner to keep the shoe on.
Laces versus Velcro versus Buckles
Over the past 10 years Velcro has started to dominate the children’s shoe market. Without doubt its ease of fastening has many advantages over the traditional buckle or lace up shoe. Whilst personal preference must be considered, many shoe manufacturers do not make buck le fastening shoes and those that do have limited styles on offer. A lace up shoe whilst practical and usually a good option for achieving a suitable fit is not always appropriate for a child who is unable to fasten laces.
How Long Should a School Shoe Last?
We all wear shoes very differently. If your child is particularly hard on shoes, choose a shoe that has a scuff resistant toe. No one style of shoe has been constructed to meet all of your child’s needs. School shoes no matter how well constructed were never designed to be the brake for the bike or scooter or the budding footballers football boots. Shoes will wear according to what children put them through. Whilst we all would like to see a pair of school shoes last a year in reality this is not the case, even if the shoe remains in good condition it is highly unlikely that a child’s foot will stay the same size and depth for a whole year!!!
Blistering or Rubbing
Back to school means going back to wearing properly constructed footwear. If your child has been in flip flops, crocs, sandals or trainers over the Summer Holidays their feet will have become a little flaccid. Going back to constructed footwear may feel a little strange for them and often children will not initially like the sensation of the more structured shoe. It is a good idea for them to wear the new shoes with socks on for short bursts of time at home before they return to school. Even with a good fitting shoe rubbing can occur, particularly around the heel. If the shoes continue to rub however and are uncomfortable, return them with your receipt to the shop you purchased them from.
Foot Growth Rate
Babies feet grow at the fastest rate The Society of Shoe Fitters suggest that an infant’s foot can grow at a rate of about 2 ½ sizes a year. As the child grows older this can change to approximately 2 sizes and by the time a child is 5 the average growth rate is approximately ½ -1 size per year. This is however very much a guide. Children’s growth rates are sporadic and a child whose feet have not grown in some time can have a real growth spurt. The good news is that in general by the age of 10 the rate of foot growth decreases further to an average of less than 1 size per year.
A shoe fitter is always happy to check the fit of your child’s shoe. It does not necessarily mean that they will need a new pair and a qualified shoe fitter will not sell a pair of shoes unless needed.
As a guide Children’s shoes should be checked for size every:
4-6 weeks 0-3 years
6-8 weeks 3-4 years
10-12 weeks 5 years and older
(Society of Shoe Fitters)
Beverly Clough is a qualified shoe fitter and has trained with the Society of Shoe Fitters. She is only one of a handful of shoe fitters working in Children’s Footwear in Gloucestershire. She owns and runs
Sheep Street, Stow on the Wold, Gloucestershire GL54 1AA
Tel 01451 798171 www.groovy2shoes.co.uk