Fitting school shoes correctly

It’s that time of the year, where parents are trying to organize their children for school and shopping for new school shoes can be often a confusing and daunting experience. So i have decided to give some handy tips on how to fit your child correctly. Before proceeding, i will point out some interesting facts about children’s feet which will help put things in perspective.

  • Between ages 1–3, feet can be expected to grow as much as 1.5mm in length each month (about 18mm or 3/4 inch per year).
  • Between ages 3–6, children’s feet grow an average of 1mm in length each month (about 12mm or 1/2 inch per year).
  • Between ages 6–10, children’s feet grow somewhat less than 1mm per month in length (slightly under 12mm or 1/2 inch per year).
  • Between ages 12–17, a boy’s foot will only grow an additional 10% and girls only about 2%.
  • Therefore, Children between ages 1–3 need new shoes 2–3 times a year, and children ages 3–10 will need new shoes 1–2 times a year.

As you can see, it’s almost impossible to keep up with growing feet, not to mention it’s costly. But knowing this, here are a few personal pointers from me:

1. Don’t over-estimate your childs shoe size.

Remember, the movement and comfort of a childs foot is no different to an adult. So it wouldn’t be comfortable for an adult to wear a shoe two sizes too big, not mention how it would change your walking manner also. So bare in mind, that a child also requires a reasonably fitted shoe. A thumb width (approx 1cm) between end of toe and shoe , whilst standing is a general guide. This allows ample space for the big toe to move and to also grow. I prefer to suggest to parents to buy a cheaper shoe with correct size and change half year, then to buy an expensive shoe that way too big at the beginning to guarantee a full year use.

2. Attempt to buy soft leather upper.

Children are every active, especially boys. They are in school shoes more than 30hours per week and so its important the shoe has a breathable fabric. This reduces the likelihood of tinea, athletes foot and other possible skin infection occurring. Not to mention avoiding the smelly feet.

3. Ensure the shoe has a very sturdy heel counter.

Children sit, walk and run with their shoes, so they get a very good beating. If a heel counter is not very sturdy, meaning it shouldn’t be easily bent left to right, then you ensure a very good stable grip on your child heel . This reduces over-pronation (flat feet) and possible heel pain (severs disease).

4. Ensure the shoe cannot bend in the arch

Shoes should be easily bent in the arch. They should only bend at the ball of the foot. If the sole isnt very sturdy, it risks losing its support after a few weeks leading to increased strain on the feet and possibly pain.

5. Attempt to buy lace-up shoes

A school shoe should be treated just like a sport shoe, and the use of laces helps to constantly ensure a secure grip that is adjustable throughout the year. If your child however has a very bad habit of not tieing up laces, then the next best option is velcro. This is good for children between ages 5-8 as they don’t have good skills of tieing laces properly.

6. Flat shoes only.

I have seen the trend of low to medium heels in school shoes amongst school girls. And although we all would like a bit of extra height, using heels on a daily basis shortens the calf muscle and modifies the gait, causing long-term damage to the feet.

7. Thick rubber sole

A school shoe requires good shock absorption just like a school shoe, so its important that thin soles, commonly found in the trendy ballet flat style shoes, is avoided. This is harmful to the feet.


Good luck shoe shopping, and if in doubt, come and see us for personalized advise.


Dr Vanessa Hadchiti (Podiatrist)