When it comes to school shoes, you’ll need to make some smart buying decisions

There’s something iconic about a child’s school shoes. They’re a way of keeping them grounded but letting them fly, as they grow, learn and step forward into life.

Their school shoes will be with them as they make new friends, play on the swings, eat their lunchtime sandwiches and learn a little more every day. But school shoes are an expensive business: because children’s feet grow so quickly, you’ll probably need to replace them every year or so. This means that, when it comes to school shoes, you’ll need to make some smart buying decisions.

With this in mind, here are some top tips from parents on how to choose the right pair of school shoes and take care of them, so that they last as long as possible:

Sizing

While it’s tempting to buy a pair two or three sizes too large so that they last much longer – this actually has the opposite effect. If your child’s shoes are too big they’ll get scuffed and ruined, as they won’t stay on their feet properly. Your child may also trip, fall and hurt themselves, as they attempt to run and hurry in their too-big shoes. Writer and mother Cath Jenkin gives this sage advice: “Buy 1 size up, never 2”.

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Buckles, velcro or laces?

Don’t be the parent who buys a brand-new pair of lace-up tackies for her five-year-old, only to be sent home with a note saying: “the homework note said velcro!”. Many schools require you to purchase velcro tackies for young kids who can’t yet lace up their own shoes, otherwise the teacher will be expected to fasten 23 pairs of laces every day.

Don’t be the parent who buys a brand-new pair of lace-up tackies for her five-year-old, only to be sent home with a note saying: “the homework note said velcro!”

If your child does need to practise fastening laces, spend time with them mastering this skill (double knots are best, so that they don’t come undone). Laces also break often, so stock up on replacement pairs to use throughout the year.

In terms of buckles, Cath Jenkin says that they’re always the first thing to break, as they get fastened and unfastened hundreds of times. Because of this, check the buckle quality on the school shoes you’re buying, and rather spend a little more to get better quality ones.

Beat the rush

While you may think it smart to buy your child’s new pair of shoes at the end of the preceding year, the truth is that kids do a lot of growing over the summer holidays, so by January they may be too snug.

For this reason, wait until the new year begins and then try and beat the rush at the shops by visiting the mall first thing in the morning. You could also pay for two pairs of shoes in different sizes, try them on your child at home, and then return the pair that doesn’t fit later and get a refund for them (just make sure they don’t walk outside or dirty the pair you’re taking back!).

Label them

There’s nothing more maddening than when your child tells you they’ve lost their bag/tracksuit top/brand new school shoes. There are many companies who will produce customised stickers and labels that can go on their water bottles, pencil cases, crayons, jerseys and school shoes. Try Labels4School – they can even add your child’s grade and class, as well as a little image or icon (a butterfly, aeroplane, etc.), so that kids who can’t read yet can easily identify what is theirs.