Why are school shoes important?
I believe I was destined to become a Podiatrist from a young age, because one of my favourite days of the summer holidays would be when Mum would take my brother, sister and I school shoe shopping! Having gone to a primary school where we wore black leather school shoes four days a week, it was important that we were 100% satisfied with the comfort and fit before purchasing.
Personally, I think there are many advantages to a uniform policy that requires wearing school shoes. I like the idea of all students looking the same, and not feeling embarrassed that they don't have the latest sports shoe. A simple black or brown school shoe puts all children on an equal playing field and prepares primary school aged children for the likely high school regulations and then even into working life.
School shoes can be regularly maintained for extra life, such as using a polish to reduce scuffs, replacing frayed laces, having a Cobbler repair soles and even replacing the sock liner. Allowing your child to participate in regular polishing and caring for school shoes fosters a sense of responsibility for their own property and promotes sustainability.
School shoes are often made with a variety of fasteners such as laces, Velcro or buckles. This creates options for children of varying ages and abilities to independently apply their own footwear. Children can progress through fastener options as their fine motor skills improve over time.
Appropriate school shoes can also help protect children's feet from the elements, a covered in leather shoe is protective against the cold and rain, a solid grip on wet ground and a quality leather allows breathability on a hot day. A thick sturdy sole protects our kids' feet should they step on something sharp and covered in style reduces the risk of foreign objects such as gravel or tanbark ending up inside the shoe.
The benefits of quality school shoes are endless, but in my opinion the dominating factor is how comfort can improve mood, concentration and ability to learn in the classroom.
How to buy the best school shoes
Researching which school shoes to buy can leave parents feeling like they're failing at comprehension. Why are some so expensive? Are the cheaper ones OK? Buckles, Velcro or laces? And why-in-the-name-of-all-that's-holy do my kids wear them out so quickly?
It's an annual dilemma for parents of school-aged children (and sometimes a biannual dilemma if they have a growth spurt) – and it can be a costly decision to get wrong.
The bones in young children's feet don't fuse together until puberty. This means their feet can lack muscle strength and be prone to hypermobility, which is why they need firm, supportive shoes to help protect them while they're growing.
"A good school shoe provides a stable home for immature bones," says Charlotte Bodell, a podiatrist and spokesperson for the Australian Podiatry Association.
"Without that support, children are in danger of developing flat feet, sore knees, shin splints and even back pain. A good shoe that fits properly is important."
Bodell adds that good footwear alone isn't enough. "It's also important for children to carry out regular daily exercise to keep their feet and lower limbs strong and healthy," she says.
Kids' feet grow quickly and can change shape as well as size. Experts recommend doing a size check at these intervals:
One to three months up to the age of three years.
Every four months up to the age of five.
Every six months until your child stops growing completely.