Three girls and two boys smiling, writing, and sitting on a school floor, wearing back-to-school shoes

Ultimate Buying Guide for Back to School Shoes [2022]

Starting a new school year only means one thing – shopping. It means that it’s time for new equipment, clothes, and of course those back-to-school shoes

Today, there are a variety of shoe types to choose from that span the style and fit spectrum. Consequently, parents have much more to think about when shopping for back-to-school footwear. 

To make your shopping experience easier, whether in-store on online, we have compiled an ultimate buying guide for buying back-to-school shoes in 2022

What to Consider When Buying Back to School Shoes?

Kids’ school shoes should be of good quality so that their growing feet are well supported and protected. Besides being comfortable, shoes should have a durable design, stitched toe bumper, and solid rubber outsole with proper cushioning and support.

Before considering buying, ask yourself a question – What is the amount of activity your kid will do in school shoes? The answer is probably a lot. According to National Center for Education Statistics kids spend approximately 7 hours in school per day, which is around 35 hours every week.   

Thus, the best back-to-school shoes for your kid are ones that can withstand everyday wear and tear. Make sure the shoes you choose are durable, multifunctional, and designed for extra activities like running, climbing, jumping, and playing sports.


School shoe design

While kids, especially the ones that are in the high school year, pay attention to the footwear’s design. However, these fashionable shoes are not always a good idea since they are crafted usually from plastic and uncomfortable materials. 

The most suitable school shoes for growing feet are the ones that are offering the highest comfortability. Shoes with comfortable cushioning are crucial for your kids’ feet, knees, and back, as they protect muscles, bones, and tendons. Luckily, supportive school footwear can also be fashionable, so always put the fit in the first place. 

Placing orthotics in kids’ school shoes

When shopping for kids’ school shoes, ensure that they are suitable for placing kids’ shoe insoles and orthotics. This means that you should look for footwear with a removable sock liner, in case your kid needs an orthotic.

Ultimate Buying Guide for Back to School Shoes

Measure kids’ feet

To get the right sizes, measure your kid’s feet, especially if you are shopping online. Do it in the morning, because kids’ feet tend to swell as the day passes by. Use our Footmeter tool  to get the 100% precise and accurate size. You can always add half an inch of room for the size of the socks that your kid is planning on wearing. Luckily, all the sites have size charts, so always check those before making a purchase. 

Maximum fit

If you buy shoes for your kid, ensure you account for growth. The kids’ feet can grow in two sizes in six months. That doesn’t mean you should buy back-to-school shoes that are too big. Their foot will slide forward when wearing oversized shoes, which will put too much pressure on the toes. Some ideal distance between the big toe and the end of the shoe is roughly a finger’s width.


On the other hand, when kids wear too tight shoes, they can cause blisters, corns, and calluses on their toes and the back of the heels. If this still happens even with comfy shoes, you might want to visit the kids’ podiatrist.

It is important that your kids’ school shoes are roomy enough to allow their feet to grow and develop, but not so large that their feet slip around. 

Proper cushioning and support

When shopping for new kids’ shoes look out for proper cushioning and arch support. Worn-out or hand-me-downs are not always a good idea shoes kids’ old shoes can elevate the risk for heel pain, blisters, or even ankle sprains. It is important to ensure that the toe box of the shoe flexes easily and the sole doesn’t bend in the middle.

Proper materials 

A quality school shoe should be made from breathable material. This material is usually leather, protecting active feet from fungal infections, blisters, and smelly odor by keeping them dry and breathable. 

Shoes made from moisture-resistant and breathable materials absorb internal moisture and prevent external moisture from getting inside the shoes. A quality pair of school shoes should also have a strong rubber outsole, and a quality shock-absorbing midsole to allow kids to be active all day in comfort.

However, if you are looking for alternatives to leather shoes, there are a lot of vegan shoes for kids. These types of shoes can also be very comfortable and suitable for kids and are made from the most sustainable materials

The weight of the shoes

Back-to-school shoes should not be heavy. Having heavier footwear requires more effort from the feet, legs, and muscles to support daily living – which will lead to faster muscle fatigue. For that reason choose lightweight shoes, particularly for kids whose muscle strength is still developing.

Wear socks when trying on shoes

If your kid is trying on school shoes, he or she should wear their school or typical socks for the best fit and comfort. The preferable feature of school shoes is to have a removable sock liner that can be removed and measured to ensure that it fits perfectly. 

As we mentioned, when shopping online, always add extra half of an inch for the kids’ socks. When they arrive, have your kid stand upright in them without the sock liner. If their toes go over the line, they need s bigger size, if they are under the line, they need a smaller size.

Check the support

Ask your kid to elevate their heels to check the fit when they are trying on school shoes. There won’t be enough support if the heel moves around excessively. Avoid buying school shoes just for style or to get a discount, and look for shoes made expressly for kids’ feet.

Additional Tips on Back to School Shoes

To wrap things up, we decided to single out the most important things to consider before deciding to buy school shoes

  • Check your kids’ shoes every school holiday to ensure they still fit
  • Always ask your kids about their opinion
  • When shopping for shoes, socks are often forgotten, but wearing socks that are too small can apply excess pressure to the toes, which can lead to clawing.
  • When measuring kids’ feet, do it in the evening, since their feet tend to swell during the day. 
  • Always measure both feet, since one foot can be bigger than the other, opt for the size of a bigger foot. 
  • Shoes should not be worn in – they should be the right fit from the start. Although wearing them around the house can assist the leather to become softer and more malleable, it should never have an impact on whether or not the shoes are the proper fit.
  • If your kid wears insoles or orthotics, ensure that there’s enough room in the shoe to fit them properly.

In Conclusion

Back-to-school shoes are one of a kind. The most important thing of all is for kids’ school footwear to be comfortable, perfectly fitted, and crafted from quality materials. 

Bare in mind that the style of the shoes is also important, but comfiness is always in the first place. Do not forget about the possible need for insoles or orthotics and socks. Always leave a little room for those things but not too much because oversized shoes can cause foot sliding and blisters. 


  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.