Giving feet the space to grow

Of all the things to tick off your back to school list haircuts, uniforms, books and bus tickets - perhaps the most important to the comfort of your child's feet, and a happy school day, is new shoes.

Your shoe investment is going to take some keeping up with.

You cant buy them too early mind you, because growth spurts can throw your plans into disarray, but if your childs feet arent comfy, its thumbs down for the school day and the three Rs.

Considering how long those tootsies spend in school shoes, a serious attempt to buy the right shoe at the right time is in order.

Do you remember your mum pressing firmly on your big toe, to see how much room your feet had?

We know that, though the shoe had a good four inches of space left and produced a slippery, sloppy, shuffle at best, she was hoping those shoes would last until at least June, before having to be replaced.

So how do you pick the right school shoe for your child?

A visit to the shoe shop a few weeks before school goes back, is in order. Sometimes you will fluke a sales assistant eager to share their insider knowledge on the mysteries of correctly fitting shoes, but if you dont heres some words of advice from the Australian Podiatry Association.

All shoes should support and protect your childrens feet. To ensure their shoes fit properly, measure regularly for length and width; so the shoe fits the natural shape of their foot, especially around the toes.

Specifically, the toe of the shoe should allow your childs toes to move freely and not be squashed from the top or the sides. Make sure there is about one centimetre growing room between the end of their longest toe and the top end of their shoe. Also bear in mind that shoes should fit comfortably around the heel, and not be too loose or too tight.

Today the new shoe business has expanded to include footy boots, running shoes and even tennis shoes; so you could be facing four times the amount of shoes for each child. Our kids feet dont stop growing just because of budget blowouts.

As well, their sport of choice could turn from footy boots to netball trainers overnight; either way, your shoe investment is going to take some keeping up with.

School rules on shoes have saved you from having to choose the colour, heel height and what it is made of. Standardisation does save headaches when you have school children.