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Picking the Perfect Preschool Shoes

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There are so many things to think about when you’re getting ready to start preschool. Should your child even go to preschool? What are you looking for when you check out a preschool? How will your child handle the separation? How will you handle the separation?

preschool shoes

What kind of stuff do you need to get your child for preschool? (Pro tip: Not a backpack.) I’m going to bet that of all the things that cross you mind, “What kind of shoes should my child wear?” will not be one of them. It should, though! Think of it as part of the “What kind of stuff does my kid need for preschool?” question. Here are some tips for picking the perfect preschool shoes.

No laces

If your child can’t tie their own shoes, they shouldn’t wear shoes with laces to preschool. Those sneakers may be totes adorbs, which means you’re more than willing to make the sacrifice of tying Junior’s shoes all day long. However, preschool teachers responsible for 8 to 16 kids aren’t going to be so willing to trade practicality for cuteness.

perfect preschool shoes
In my house, we’re currently digging the Adidas Samoa because the Little Kid (also sometimes called Toddler or Preschool) sizes come with regular laces and with these awesome elasticized laces that make the shoes a simple pull-on style.

No ballet flats

No, I’m not saying your kid should be in heels. They should not be in shoes that don’t have a strap across the top of the foot to keep the shoe on, though. It’s too easy for the shoe to slip off during active play, which can easily lead to a fall or other injury. At the very least, look for something with a thin elasticized strap across the top; a Mary Jane shoe would be a better choice, though.

perfect preschool shoes
My girly girl loved these silver pediped Betty shoes, and we bought them over and over and over again until she grew out of the size range. (PS: Silver is an amazing neutral that goes with absolutely everything. A great investment.) These navy ballet flats from Old Navy are okay because they have a strap to help the shoe stay on.

Rubber soles

We all know how cute a leather moc is on a little kid, but they’re not the best shoes for playing outside and climbing. And any shoe that would qualify as what my daughter calls “clack shoes” are right on out; shoes that make noise when your child walks are fun for special occasions, but not great for everyday wear.

perfect preschool shoes
I’m a sucker for Chooze shoes when it comes to comfort. This loafer style gives you the coverage and comfort of a moccasin, but with a nice thick, grippy sole. And if you really need a moc, Freshly Picked expanded their line to include a hard-sole style (with elastic laces, natch).

No open-toed shoes

I admit that I’m not a fan of sandals for kids at all. I have no idea if it’s true, but I worry that flip-flops will alter the development of my daughter’s foot/toe growth. Not to mention how often she catches her toes on the ground and trips when she walks—can you imagine that with nothing covering your toes?

Anyway, keep the toes covered. Whether you’re worried about foot development or not, your kid’s toes will be safer if they can’t stub them or drop things on them or get a splinter in them when climbing wooden equipment. Also, make sure the shoe has a back, or a strap that wraps around the heel to keep the shoe on.

perfect preschool shoes
With their protected toe, Keen shoes are a great choice when it’s warmer outside and you want an open shoe. However, I’ve both heard and know from experience that children either love Keens or hate them. If your kid’s not a Keen fan, try something like the pediped Sahara.

When it comes to boots…

I urge you to think long and hard before you put your kid in fashion boots. So cute—but they can be hard to move in. Is your child comfortable kneeling in their boots? Sitting criss-cross-applesauce? Think about how your child’s range of motion is affected by their footwear.

Now, that being said, sometimes wearing boots is unavoidable. If your child is wearing boots because of rain or snow, pack a pair of regular shoes for them to change into when they’re inside. And do what you can to choose boots in a style that your kid can put on and take off independently. For snow boots look for a hook-and-loop closure and a wide opening that makes it easy for kids to get in and out of them.

perfect preschool shoes
We’ve raved about Hunter wellies at Baby Gizmo before, and I am totally part of their fan group. Hunters are my one complete and total splurge for my daughter; I love them for rain and—with Hunter boot socks—for light snow and quick trips outside. I love Lands’ End and L.L. Bean snow boots for outdoor play in deep snow. They’re both easy for a child to get in and out of, and as your child gets older, for them to put on and take off on their own.

In summary: Think about shoes that are safe for active play, don’t restrict your child’s range of motion, and are promote your child’s independence. Your child may not thank you—hey, they’re what? three?—but the preschool staff sure will!

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