Finding the right shoes for kids
They’ve been growing by leaps and bounds since the day they were born, which makes finding footwear that can keep up feel like a never-ending challenge!
There’s a whole wide world to explore at every age, and those still-growing feet need protection and support. Here’s a quick guide on what to look for whether you’ve got little kids, big kids, or really big kids.
For the preschool set
Your preschooler’s feet are growing stronger as they explore movement and expand coordination during the toddler years. Lightweight shoes with a slightly more structured sole give them the barely-there comfort they need for ground feel and to support development. Easy-to-use closures help them gain independence (plus many preschools require shoes that kids can put on themselves) with a secure fit that won’t restrict natural movement. Growing feet that are always on the move need protection, too, so look for durable shoes with strong rubber soles that can stand up to all-day play.
Good year-round choices include KEEN Little Kids’ Chandler Waterproof CNX and Little Kids’ Encanto Finley Low shoes. For those in warmer climates, or for the beginning and end of the school year, Little Kids’ Seacamp II CNX and Little Kids’ Moxie Mary Jane will keep them cool in shoes that let their feet develop naturally.
For your K-5 crew
A full day at elementary school can include a wide range of activities, inside and out, not to mention loads of afterschool fun. Whether kids are setting up for a science fair or heading to soccer practice, their endless curiosity and energy keep them on the go. While many growth spurts are behind them, their feet are still in the first stages of healthy foot development, with arches beginning to form and mature. Arch support and flexibility work together to support strong healthy feet, plus durable rubber soles and quick-drying materials make any pair an easy choice to support active days.
Solid all-year picks that will keep their feet protected, supported, dry, and comfortable include KEEN’s Big Kids’ Hikeport Waterproof and Big Kids’ Oakridge Waterproof shoes. For those in warmer climates, or for the beginning and end of the school year, Big Kids’ Moxie Sandal, Big Kids’ UNEEK O2 sneaker, and Big Kids’ Chandler CNX will keep them cool through all that school work and play.
For middle-schoolers and beyond
Foot bones continue to form and grow through adolescence (even if your teenager thinks they’ve already reached adulthood). Arches, ligaments, and muscles still need support as they continue to develop. So while your kids’ feet might fit into adult shoes, look for ones with arch support, cushioning, and enough space for toes to move freely.