Kids School Shoes – Why The Right Fit Matters

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang.

Well prep is now over for our fourth child. He has had a fantastic year and his growth not only physically but emotionally and cognitively has been amazing to watch.

His little shoes tell much about his journey. I very much remember the fitting at which we bought them. I had all five children and was buying school shoes for the three of them. Being his first year of school and the youngest to be fitted, he insisted on going first.

I had chosen a shoe for him to try on that I liked the look of. A very traditional looking school shoe, quite stiff and with a defined heel. He was okay to try it on, but the minute he hopped off the seat to walk he started complaining. “They are too big.” “They feel heavy.” “I can’t walk properly in them.”

He did seem very uncoordinated walking in them and looked uncomfortable, so we looked for another style. I chose another shoe and part of my decision was price based. There was a shoe which looked different, but was a step up in the price range, so I moved straight past it.

The second and the third pairs of shoes received the same reaction from him as the first. He had always been sensitive to how clothing and shoes fit him, so I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised that finding the right fitting school shoe was going to take some time.

The very patient lady who was doing the fitting, suggested we try on the ones you see in the photo above. There were from the Clarks Platinum range, the Valiant. From the minute they were fitted he smiled and said “I want these ones. They feel good.”

He walked about the shoe shop with ease and seemed much more like his usually well coordinated self. Even though I don’t know too much about fitting shoes, it was quite clear to me that those shoes were the right fit for him.

It wasn’t until I was researching for this post, that I found out why he would have so greatly preferred the Clarks Platinum shoe. They have what Clarks call “Active Air.” Beneath the insoles of the shoes are hundreds of tiny pockets that trap air. This creates a comfy cushion between the his foot and the ground below, and also absorbing the impact of his step.

The photo above was taken on his last week of school (17th December). They are still in fantastic condition and we have not had one word of complaint about his shoes. As regular readers of the blog would know, we walk to school most days – a 1.5km walk and he is a very active kid in the playground so they have had a heavy workout.

Research from the Clarks Back To School 2012 Study found that on average, kids spend 8 hours a day for around 200 days per year in their school shoes, which equates to over 1,600 hours of walking, running, skipping, climbing and jumping.

I imagine with the walking to school we do, the figure for his shoes would be much greater than that! So while I have may have paid more than I had expected at the start of the year, the money was incredibly well spent. My daughter’s shoes (not the same brand or style) have fared much worse and the soles around the heel are now worn out. Had it not been for the fact that she has worn her sports uniform for most of the last term and her runners, I really would have had to replace them.

Why The Right Fit Matters

Clarks school shoes DSC08461
The Clarks Back To School 2012 Study also found:

  • 41% of Australian children are wearing the wrong size school shoes.
  • The average Australian school child spends 82 days of the 200 day school year in ill-fitting shoes.
  • 38% of podiatrists believe ill-fitting shoes contribute to childhood obesity.
  • Over a third of podiatrist link lethargy and crankiness to the fit of children’s school shoes.
  • Parents often over compensate for growing room in a school shoe, and if a kid’s school shoe is of excessive length, the child will be clumsy and is more likely to fall.

An ill fitting shoe can have a much broader impact on a child, than just being uncomfortable. So how can you tell if the shoe is fitting correctly?

Clarks has trained fitters around the country offering advice on how to tell if the shoe is the right fit for the child. They use a 10-step fitting process. I only knew one of these steps – the room at the top of the toe for length!

The Clarks 10-Step Check:

  1. Heel Grip: with the child seated, pull firmly to ensure no heel slip;
  2. Width: with the child standing, make sure the shoe shape suits the foot shape. Feel for excess pressure on the little toe;
  3. Depth: make sure there is enough depth. Remember that too many creases equal too much depth;
  4. Length: make sure the child is standing correctly. Feel for the longest toe. There should be approx. 15mm growing room (the width of your thumb);
  5. Arch: make sure the shoe cradles the arch;
  6. Toplines: the ankle bone must be clear of the topline. This may not be necessary if the topline is padded. Make sure the shoe fits neatly against the foot;
  7. Back: the shoe must fit snugly around the heel;
  8. Instep Bars: ensure enough holes for adjustment or velcro must grip firmly;
  9. Walking: the age-old walking test around the shoe store is still a valid method for reviewing the shoe’s fit If you know what you’re looking for, check to see how well your child’s walking, if they feel comfortable and make sure there’s no heel slip;
  10. Laces: when fastened correctly, the lacing gap on your child’s shoes should be no wider than the width of you finger (approx.15mm).

So many areas to consider! And I need to do this five times??? I will be heading back to get the kids expertly fitted again for school shoes for 2013.

Clark’s now have more stores around the country with expertly trained staff able to fit shoes for your child as well as trained specialists in local and department stores. Check the shop locator on the website to find the one closest to you.

How knowledgeable are you on fitting your kids’ shoes?