School shoes are expensive, so it’s worth taking care of them to get the most wear you can out of a pair. We’re lucky we have a highly skilled Hills District Mum who knows school shoes like the back of her hand and has some great tips on how to get school shoes to go the distance.

Taking shoes on and off

Teaching your child to put their shoes on and take them off correctly is worth the time invested. It will ensure they have the shoes on properly and also prolongs the life of the shoes.

  1. When putting your shoes on use your finger or thumb in the back of the shoe and do not take your finger out until your foot is inside the shoe. This will prevent the back heel counter from being squashed down and ruining the support.
  2. Place your heel on the ground with your toe aimed high in the air to drop your foot into the back of the shoe. If parents are putting kids shoes on then ask your child to sit in a chair whilst you stand in front of them putting their foot between your knees. This will have the same effect.
  3. Starting with the laces at the bottom – closest to your toes – firmly pull the shoe laces working your way towards the top of the shoe. Tie your bow.

When removing your shoes you must ALWAYS undo your bow and knot then loosen the laces before removing your shoes every time! This will prevent the top line of the shoe from stretching out of shape and losing the fit around the ankle. These instructions apply to Velcro shoes too.

Here’s a golden rule to teach your kids – if your shoes are fastened so that they come off without undoing them, then they’re too loose!

Polishing school shoes

Leather is a skin, and just like your skin needs moisturiser daily, your shoes need moisturiser too! Polish should be applied to school shoes at least once a week. The best polish for leather is old fashioned boot polish applied with a brush. Polish aids in making shoes more water resistant by applying a breathable layer over the top of the leather and filling the stitch holes to keep water at bay.

If shoes get excessively wet stuff them with newspaper – this helps to draw the moisture out of the leather. Do not attempt to dry shoes using an artificial heat source like a heater, the oven, microwave or hairdryer. This could cause the leather to harden and crack. Once shoes are dry, give them a good coat of shoe polish to restore the leather.

Repairing school shoes

Remember your bootmaker? The one who, years ago, used to make shoes before massive companies began to manufacture them? Or who used to repair your favourite pair of high heels over and over? Well, they still exist and do great work! Find a good one and they’ll breathe life into school shoes that are looking a little worse for wear and get them to go that extra mile.

Some kids like to play on their hands and knees and, just like long pants or tights get holes in the knees, shoes get holes in the toes! Oh the horror! While it may seem that all hope is lost for this shoe, a bootmaker may still be able to repair even a hole at the toe with a Topy Toe Cap. While Topy is a product that’s usually used for re-soling shoes, the bootmaker can applly a very thin layer of Topy on the toes. This provides a harder wearing toe for your little one to wear through and saves the shoes! It’s not the prettiest, but it’s much cheaper then purchasing a new pair and is a great solution if you’re nearing the end of the school year.

You may find that Velco straps come apart too because kids sit crossed legged and wriggle, which wears away at the stitching on the strap causing the two parts of the strap to separate. When this happens (and it will happen, regardless of how little or much money you spend on shoes) take the shoes to a boot repairer and they can re-stitch the strap for you. Repairers can also put new Velcro on if it’s not sticking anymore and replace buckles when they break.

And here’s a hot tip – the best way to clean out the carpet fluff and other debris from the Velcro is with a wire brush. Cleaning it regularly keeps the Velcro sticking together.

Laces constantly coming undone?

If your child’s shoe laces are constantly come undone, no matter how many double knots you put in them, there IS a solution. Manufacturers use nylon shoe laces in the production of footwear as they wear and last the longest. Changing your shoe laces to cotton laces assists in keeping the laces done up, although you may need to replace them more frequently than nylon laces. The correct and best length lace to purchase for school shoes is 90cm. This means there’s enough length to tie the bow and a double knot or two! It makes no difference if you use flat or round laces – that’s just personal preference.

School shoes are a big investment so it’s worth spending the time to care for shoes so they last as long as possible. Also, no matter what brand you end up with, please be sure to have your children properly fitted for school shoes and sports shoes. Growing feet need the correct support right from their first shoe. And school shoes have many hours spent in them, so quality fitting counts the most.


Jaythene is a Hills District Mum of 3 and knows kids’ shoes like the back of her hand. Her family has owned Sparks Shoes in Beecroft for generations and the store is a local institution.  She has also written an article on choosing the right school shoes for your child. Read it here.

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