Shopping For School Shoes – A Parent’s Survival Guide

Posted by Kim at Klodhoppers on

Does the thought of shopping for school shoes fill you with horror?

It’s more than likely that you and your children would rather be on the beach or in the park, but you have to get the new shoes sorted during the summer - it’s a chore, but it has to be done.

Here are a few tips and hints to help you and make this time of year:-

Don’t leave the school shoe buying until the last week of the holidays – our stock arrives in the first half of July, so shopping early gives you the best choice of all the brands and styles, plus the best size availability.

Early shopping for school shoes is a ‘must’ If your child has specific needs such as:-

very narrow feet and very slim ankles, extremely wide feet, hypermobility or he/she needs to wear an orthotic insert.

“But what if my child’s feet grow over the summer holidays?” is a phrase all shoe fitters are used to hearing. This is more often a myth than a fact, as very few children have such massive growth spurts over the few weeks of the summer holidays that it would affect the fit of a shoe. A professional fitter who sizes and fits school shoes early in the season will always fit with the appropriate growth room accounted for.

At Klodhoppers we factor in any potential summer growth spurt.

When school shoes are fitted professionally they are usually sized to give at least 3 months of growing room. However this is all dependent on the child – growth spurts are not timed at regular intervals and can often be quite erratic.

Most children need two pairs of school shoes on average, per academic year – if they don’t, then they are very likely to be wearing an incorrect size by the end of the school year, or the shoes are probably well and truly worn out.

Fitting a shoe much too big, in order to save money, can do as much damage to a developing foot as a shoe that is too small. If the shoe is too big there will be a lot of heel slip which can cause rubbing and blisters elsewhere on the foot, and the child could develop hammer or claw toe trying to grip the shoes to keep them on.

We always advise customers who do buy early to keep their receipt and the original packaging, and not to wear the shoes outside - if they are concerned about a growth spurt during the holidays they can always pop back for a size re-check and a swap if necessary, subject to availability. It makes the process very simple and much more stress-free.

School shoes are NOT indestructible – some children will always find a way to destroy them! There are children who are very ‘hard’ on their school shoes and subject them to extra wear and tear, above and beyond what is considered the norm. They may use a climbing wall at school, they may play football in their school shoes instead of changing into trainers or plimsolls, or they may use the toes of their school shoes as brakes for their scooter or bike!

So for five days a week their school shoes can take quite a ‘bashing’.

Buying the school shoes early gives the child more time to wear the shoes around the house and to allow the leather to soften and ‘break in’ before the start of term. Pop the shoes on with the correct school socks or tights and ask your child to walk around on the carpet in them, even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes – the child will get used to how they feel and the shoes won’t feel too stiff on day one of the new term. If there are any problems at this stage then at least there is sufficient time to sort them out.

This is particularly important advice for parents of Reception children who may not be used to wearing a more structured shoe on a daily basis.

Another word of advice for parents of Reception-aged children - try to select a style with a toe bumper or scuff guard if possible. Reception children tend to spend a lot of time kneeling on the carpet in class, or getting up from a kneeling position either in the playground or in the classroom. This takes its toll on the leather of the toe of their shoes, so a toe bumper or scuff guard can keep their shoes wearing and looking better for longer.

If your child wears a school shoe or boot with a zip fastener then you need to ensure that they know how to get into and out of the shoe or boot correctly, i.e. by unzipping the boot or shoe completely when putting them on or taking them off. Forcing the foot into or out of a zipped-up or even partially zipped-up boot or shoe will eventually break the teeth of the zip and/or break down the inner lining of the footwear at the heel. It will also void any warranty with the brand supplier as this is considered excessive wear and tear or mis-use, and is therefore NOT a valid reason for a replacement or a refund.

Once you have purchased the shoes you need to protect your investment and get the best value from your purchase by regularly cleaning and polishing their school shoes. Or teach them to do it themselves – a little weekend chore perhaps! Start by spraying on some liquid protector and allowing this to dry - we do this for you in the shop with every new school shoe purchase to save you having to do this at home for the first time. The protector spray will give the leather a layer of protection to help the shoe stay water resistant for longer. It does not make them waterproof though - only a shoe labelled as ‘Gore-tex’, ‘Sympa-tex’, or similar, will be waterproof. You don’t need to use spray protector on shoes which are already waterproofed.

The best shine results are obtained by using an inexpensive tin of shoe polish or cream, an old duster or soft cotton cloth and a bit of ‘elbow-grease’. Use the soft cloth to wipe a sparing amount of polish all over the leather, concentrating the polish on the scuffed areas, and leave it to dry for a couple of minutes, then use another soft cloth or duster to buff the shoes until they shine and any scuffs or scratches are hidden. Sponge applicator liquid polishes are not recommended, as layers of this can build up on the surface of the shoe and then eventually crack, causing the leather to crack too.

You can help us by being prepared when you come along for a measure and a fitting. Bring your child’s correct school socks/tights with you for trying on new shoes. Remember to bring their orthotic inserts too if they wear them. It’s the summer and most children are in sandals or flip flops when they come to try on shoes, and some parents have forgotten to bring socks. We always have spare pairs if you need to borrow some, but it’s not quite the same as wearing their own.

Beware of buying school shoes from supermarkets and chain stores - while the price point may seem appealing remember that they don’t offer a measuring and fitting service. Furthermore, the quality is usually reflected in the price so if you have to replace them 3 or 4 times during the school year then this can prove to be a false economy. Secondly, a professional fitter will not only use a measuring gauge to get an idea of the length and width of the feet, but they will also have used their eyes and hands to assess the shape of your child’s feet, the depth of the toe box required, the width of the heel collar etc.

Here at Klodhoppers we are fully qualified members of the Society of Shoe Fitters (S.S.F) and Children’s Foot Health Register (C.F.H.R) accredited.

Another way of saving money is the Klodhoppers Early Bird discount week - it runs from Monday July 29th until Sunday 4th August – there will be 10% off all school shoes and school-related products purchased during these dates, both in-store and on-line.