The Best Place to Find Kids' Shoes
for all Foot Shapes and Foot Problems

The Best Back to School Shoes – Ring the Bell, School’s In!


It’s back to school again! Whether your child attends a public or private school, it’s likely time for you to purchase new uniform items. I am going to show you the most supportive, lightweight, flexible, and durable back to school shoes that are capable of fitting children with different foot shapes such as medium, wide, and extra wide feet.

My Experience Fitting Children’s Shoes – Over a Decade of Shoe Fitting Experience!

I have been working at a children’s shoe store for over 10 years now, and besides carrying the best shoe brands for kids to fit them for their everyday footwear, we also specialize in children who have “complicated” foot shapes as well as foot problems. Over the years I got familiar with the best back to school shoes for kids.


When back to school season hits, it’s a madhouse at the shoe store. Parents take their children to be fitted for their school shoes, and since we are a fitting store, we take the time to make sure every child leaves wearing the perfect shoe size. This does lead to parents waiting from thirty minutes to an hour for their turn.

Parents wait because they know that their children will get the same specialized attention when their turn comes, and parents like to leave the store with peace of mind that their kids’ shoes fit perfectly. We are one of the best fitting children’s shoe stores in the country. It is really important to fit your kids’ back to school shoes properly. Fitting these small people whilst pleasing them (and their parents), requires special skills and attention.

Children are particular about what they wear and how it fits, and this is demonstrated most basically through shoe choice.

I will describe the best, most durable back to school shoes that I have previously fitted at the shoe store that I work for and that meet most school requirements.

What Makes the Back to School Shoes that I Recommend the Best Choice for Kids?

Your child will be wearing his back to school shoes at recess, the playground, and physical education class. The shoes must provide your child with the appropriate everyday support to protect his feet and leg, and prevent foot and legs injuries. The shoes must also provide good durability so your child can outgrow the shoes before anything happens to them.

There are two key features that the back to school shoes that I recommend provide:

1️⃣ Good everyday support

2️⃣ Excellent durability

Your Guide to Buying Back to School Shoes — The Most Durable Styles

➡️ Sperry Dirty Buck

Have you heard of a shoe called the Dirty Buck? This is one of the most popular back to school shoes. However, they are made by several different shoe companies and their quality varies by each brand. The Dirty Buck by Sperry is most recommended and extremely popular. Popularity aside, this is a classic shoe and these brands ensure the best fit with the most child-proof quality.

The Dirty Buck by Sperry is the most durable and best well-made back to school shoe in the market right now which is also available in wide widths. This shoe type is recommended for private school dwellers. Below you can find a picture of the Dirty Buck, in case you don’t know what it looks like.


➡️ Sperry Boat Shoes

For public schools, boat shoes by Sperry for kids are the most popular ones among children. The fit is great because they are available in medium and wide widths.  These are time-tested durable shoes, and they will survive under various weather conditions! These are all unisex which must be noted. Below is a picture of a Sperry boat shoe:


➡️ Mary Jane Claire

For girls specifically, there is a shoe called Claire by Stride Rite that is sort of that brand’s answer to the Mary Jane. This shoe is made out of leather and traditionally comes in black, navy, and brown and fits medium, wide, or extra wide feet. 

This is an exceptional shoe for your daughter to grow into. The quality of this shoe is outstanding and your daughter will outgrow the shoes before anything happens to them. It also has the plus that orthotics or inserts can be put in this type of shoe since it comes with a removable insole. Below is a picture of the shoe made by Stride Rite called Claire:


Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best back to school shoes for kids. Disclosure: Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases.

The Best Back to School Shoes for Kids ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Take a look at the description below the image of each shoe to check if that specific shoe can fit your child’s foot shape (narrow, medium, wide, extra wide).

Unsure About What Shoe Size You Should Order?

In each of the descriptions of the shoes, I indicate whether you need to order a half size or a whole size bigger than your child’s foot size to provide the correct amount of growing room.

*A half a size bigger translates to 3/16 of an inch or 0.4 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes.

*A whole size bigger translates to 3/8 of an inch or 0.8 centimeters of space between your child’s longest toe and the end of the shoes.

Are Any Other Shoe Choices Available?

Do not hesitate to contact me directly at my e-mail if you have any further questions or if you need a different pair of shoes for your child. My e-mail address is:


Black or White Back to School Shoes? Find Them Here!

I’ve noted that private schools often but not always insist on black and white sneakers. These you will find with the New Balance and the Stride Rite brand. Whether your child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet this brand will accommodate his/her feet since their shoes come in all shapes and sizes! New Balance and Stride Rite are one of the very top choices when it comes to footwear in general.

Below you can find an article that describes the best all black shoes for kids:

Black Shoes for Kids – The Best All BLACK to School Shoes for Kids!

Below you can find an article that describes the best all white shoes for kids:

White Shoes for Kids – The Best All WHITE Back to School Shoes for Children!

Sneakers for Back to School – Supportive and Durable!

Children need to get ready for those PE classes with the best kind of footwear possible. When purchasing a pair of sneakers for your son or daughter you want to make sure they are going to hold up and provide them with the best support possible.

If you were looking to get your child a pair of everyday sneakers, then you can read a post I wrote where I describe the best sneakers for kids. The post is called: 

Best Gym Shoes for School – Supportive, Durable, and Affordable!

All These Shoes Feel Too Tight! – Are You 100% Sure of Your Child’s Foot Size?

Parents, please keep in mind that when you take your children to get fitted for shoes their one and only answer to every single pair they try might be “too tight”, “too pinchy”, or “take them off right now!”… Everything feels “too tight” after wearing flip flops and Crocs all summer, so it might take some parenting to make them understand that.

I always recommend parents have their children fitted for shoes at their local shoe store, where a shoe fitter will be able to properly measure and find shoes that fit the shape of their kids’ feet perfectly. However, a lot of parents don’t have a local children’s shoe store in their area that they trust. Let’s make sure that you don’t have a good fitting children’s shoe store in your area:

The Best Kids’ Shoe Stores in the United States – Where To Go for Proper Fittings

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a kids’ shoe store in your area, then proceed to read an article I created where I describe the simplest, yet most effective way to figure out your child’s foot size from home:

How to Measure Your Kids’ Foot – 2 Simple Steps to Determine Foot Length and Foot Width

In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also will be able to tell you whether your child has a high instep or not.

Happy back to school year!

Does your child already have a pair of back to school shoes? Have you found any particular shoe style that works best? Please share your thoughts and experiences below so we can all benefit from them!


I created this webpage to help parents understand the importance that shoes have in healthy foot development and how they can prevent foot problems in the future.Join the rest of the parents who are taking care of their kids feet and get my guide for free: 10 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid When Buying Shoes for their Kids.

Do You Buy Your Kids’ Shoes Online?

Subscribe and get my personalized shoe size chart for free to help you find what size to order online.

Shoe Sizing Chart

28 Comments on The Best Back to School Shoes – Ring the Bell, School’s In!

  1. Thank you SO MUCH for saying that shoes don’t have to be gender specific! Taking my 5 year old boy to get his shoes for back to school this year was so fun, because I told him to pick the shoe he wanted, and he could go in whichever aisle he wanted.
    Sweet boy went straight for the bright neon pink, orange, green and blue sneakers, pink being the most dominant color. He loves them and so do I!

    • Dara,

      You won’t believe the amount of boys that choose the bright pink color sneakers. Once I walk the child and the parent to the correspondent side of the store to pick the sneakers, I always tell them that if they don’t see anything they like there, they can always look at the opposite gender wall. Your story brought some memories back. I remember helping this boy who wanted pink sneakers, the mother was totally fine with it so I fitted him in a nice pair of pink sneakers. The boy was so excited, he kept running around the store showing his new pair of sneakers to everyone. Once grandma showed up she started asking why her grandson was wearing pink sneakers to which the mother responded: ” He chose them and look how happy he is”, grandma response was: “but they are pink…” She mentioned that they are pink a hundred times before she left, but the mother and the boy were super happy. I guess we cannot make everyone happy. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi Juan

    What a wonder article! I’ve always had problems fitting my children for shoes. Like you describe they always complained they were too tight lol. Now I get it!

    Sneakers have been another challenge. I predominately find they don’t last. I’ll look forward to reading your review section on that issue also. Thank you for an insightful review.

    Kind Regards


    • Michelle,

      When you mention that their shoes do not last, do you mean that they outgrown them fast or that the shoes get worn out? If you feel like they are outgrowing the shoes too fast then make sure they are being fitted for the shoes and that the appropriate growing room is being provided. Remember: we do not want the shoes too be too long or too short, just RIGHT,

      If you feel like the shoes are being worn off too fast, then you should consider investing a little bit more in shoes and see what happens. If they are still wearing them out it might be an issue with the way they are walking.Thank you for sharing!

  3. Interesting topic. If I had kids, I would totally consider the shoes you suggested. I’m curious, if you can’t find the right size shoes for your kid, would it be better to buy a size too big or too small? My guess would be too big because they could grow into it and a shoe that’s too small could really hurt.

    • Eric,

      We do not want the shoes too be too long or too short.If they are fitted too long then you will compromise their stability making the child more prone to falling which can lead to several injuries. A shoe that is too long can also create foot problems such as blisters.

      We also we do not want shoes to be fitted too short since it will have the same consequences as them being too long. Shoes should be fitted with just the right amount of space. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Hi there,

    I have found your article very helpful! I am having a lot of trouble finding good tight shoes for my children since they wear Crocs and flip flop most of the time because we live near the sea, so they got use to it:) But they need a good pair of shoes to go to school as they don’t allow children to wear sandals or crocs at school. I love sneakers, especially when wearing jeans and the New Balance styles are my favorite. I will show the sneakers review you have recommended down the article.

    Thank you very much

    • Daniella, take a look at this resource: Medium Width Kids Sneakers to see if you can find something they might like. Remember that everything might feel tight to them after wearing crocs and flip flops all summer. Explain to them that after wearing the shoes for a while these will soften up. There are plenty of New Balance sneakers to choose from! Good luck!

  5. This is a really great, helpful and informative post! There are so many issues when it comes to getting shoes for kids that it is hard not to hear all of the excuses that you mention in your article along with the new restrictions that are being set at different schools. I live in an area where we get snow and the school is very particular about they types of shoes that the children can wear in order to go out and play during the winter. I also really enjoyed the point that you make about how it is hard to put a kid in a shoe after all summer they have been wearing flip flops. I had never thought of this before, what a great point! Thanks for the info!

    • A lot of parents are confused when their children keep saying that every single shoe feels tight, so I thought parents should know that crocs and flip flops are probably a direct cause of this since they fit so roomy.

      Since you live in an area where you get cold weather and snow you probably have to get them waterproof insulated snow boots or hiking boots. I will be creating a post shortly about those two types of footwear. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I’m not a parent, but these shoes seem like a good choice for back to school.

    I love black shoes so that black new balance may have been a good choice. It’s great that you have listed a good variety of shoes for both male and female.

    Dirty Buck by Jumping Jacks seems like a great choice for a male child. Has that elegant look.

    • Tyler,

      After reading my review you should be all set to become a parent 😉 I am sure you know plenty of people who can benefit from reading this. The Dirty Buck is extremely popular not just among boy’s, but girl’s too.

  7. I got the Dirty Buck for my child and it works perfectly!. Yes, it’s a classic shoe and it looks classy. It’s quite matured to me. It looks well built as well, but we will see.

    I never liked the Sperry Top siders since they do not seem to hold up as well. It’s a good thing they’re unisex, there’s a degree of flexibility in terms of choice.

    • Tar,

      The Dirty Buck is one of the most popular styles and I am sure your child will be happy with it and you as well. It is well made, so your child can run around at recess with no issues. Let me know how the shoe works out!

  8. This is useful information since this will happen multiple times in a child’s life, due to their feet growing so fast. I’ve already been through multiple shoe sizes with my first child who is less than ten years of age. I expect to go through many more shoe size changes.
    Great selection. Also, great summary and description of the various options.
    I really like the New Balance shoes, also.
    This article was very nice to read.

    • Back to school is a hectic time for parents. They are always running around trying to provide their children with everything that the school requires, from back to school supplies to back to school uniforms. Hopefully parents will find this post helpful and it will serve them as a guide for the best back to school shoes. I only review shoes that I have fitted before and that I am familiar with the quality.

  9. Hi Juan,

    This is very informative post, I don’t have children jet, but I have 4 nieces. And I know my sister has always trouble with buying the right shoes for her two daughters. I understand the fact that the shoes shouldn’t be too big nor too small. But how can we know how bigger they should exactly be. My mum always checked that the space between the toe finger and the shoe ending is about one width of her hand finger. What do you think about that? Is that a good method, or do you have any better one in your mind?
    Thank you for the answer, and again great post, I will share it with my sister.

    • Nina,

      You must be super aunt! Figuring out what is the right shoe size is quite difficult. Different shoes in identical sizes and
 widths will measure and fit differently. How to determine shoe size is a matter of both length and width, the latter being a detail that most people tend to ignore. The way your mom used to check if the shoes fitted is not entirely correct. I always check the ball of the foot first (which is the widest part of the foot) and then I check the length, where we usually want ½” of space between the end of the longest toe (in most cases this is the big toe) and the end of the inside of the shoe. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  10. Hi Juan

    You have an awesome website. I have two young boys and buying shoes have always been a bit of an issue i.e. too tight or too big etc.

    I really like that you actually work with shoes on a daily basis and that you therefore know what you are talking about.

    My eldest boy will be going to schools next year and I will definitely consider your helpful information and have his shoes fitted by hopefully someone that is as knowledgeable as you.


    • I am glad that you found the website informative. The purpose of the website is to provide information to the parents to make sure that their children are wearing the right size and the right type of shoe. Independent, local stores tend to have the best knowledgeable and trained employees. I have fitting children shoes for over 5 years and I feel like I learn something new every day.

  11. When my sisters were younger I would go and buy them shoes, without taking them with me and it wasn’t always a good idea because sometimes I would get the size right and sometimes I had to go back to the store and get a larger size.
    Thanks for the great article, I also think that shoes don’t need to be gender specific!

    • Pauilna,

      It is always best to have their feet measured. Maybe the shoes were feeling too tight to them because they were not wide enough and not because they were too short. That means you might have been buying them longer shoes when they actually did not need them.

  12. Hi Juan Pablo! I’m in a bit of a pickle. My daughter has intoing, wears a size 10 (meassured almost a 10 at the store 16.5 cm, we live in AZ though so no place to properly meassure or an option to buy the scale at this time) and has narrow feet. We’re considering getting the Camo insoles for her. She needs a pair of mary janes for her uniform at school. I was considering the Claire Stride Rite ones because I can fit the orthotic in, but also the Naturino Catania for her narrow feet. Don’t know which option is best.

  13. My son needs an all black she for back to school. I saw  the one with velcro that you recommend by Hush Puppies but it looks more dressier than a sneaker, and I want to make sure that they are durable as my son is really hard on his shoes. Is there an all black sneakers with velcro you can recommend? Note that my son also has  extra wide feet. Thanks.

  14. I am glad Diane asked that question as I was thinking the same thing myself. My son always destroy his shoes and I was looking for an all black to school shoe that is all black but looks like a sneaker. I am going to try the one you recommended for Diane as my son also has wide feet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.