School-friendly closed toe slip-on shoes for toddlers and kids

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You already know it’s back-to-school time in many parts of the world, but what you may NOT realize is that many schools (at least those in the Northern Hemisphere) have a closed-toe shoe policy firmly in place.

Rather than argue if this makes sense or not (I admit I don’t completely understand the reasons behind the policies — safety? Nail polish?), it’s way more fun to cruise the internet for sparkly and/or brightly-colored closed-toe slip-on shoes like these red wool shoes by the folks at TOMS ($29). RIGHT? Right.

I’m also crushing on these multi-colored TOMS ($29) — they range in size from Toddler 6 to Big Kid 8.

I’ve been seeing different versions of these Skidders around — I have no clue if they’re elementary-school friendly, but I bet many a preschool would accept them! They’re also only $5, so the risk may well be worth it. These are size 9-12 months, but other version go up to 18 months ($9) and 24 months ($9).

Those looking for a TOMS alternative may find one in Sanuk — I’m OBSESSED with this shiny gold pair and gray-and-pink zebra design (both are $44, sizes Toddler 10 to Big Kid 6).

Sketchers also have their OWN rainbow/glittery/amazing alternatives — this particularly rainbow-y and fabulous pair ($28, sizes Big Kid 6-11) is also particularly glam! There are glittery black and silver designs, AND a tye-dye shoe, too! WIN.

Comments on School-friendly closed toe slip-on shoes for toddlers and kids

  1. My son’s school has this policy and I asked his kindergarten teacher why and her reply was “imagine running on the playground and getting a woodchip stuck under your toenail.” ouch!! That’s probably not the real reason, but dang that would hurt!

  2. I can’t help but think that a kid wearing Skidders would HURT if anyone trod on their foot by accident.

    Curious to know what other Northern Hemisphere countries aside from the UK have uniforms as standard in most schools (yes, even public schools) from about age 5 upwards. Most schools require black or navy shoes only, depending on the uniform colours, and usually fairly formal ones (ie TOMS and sneakers are out).

    Those Sanuks are CUTE though.

    • School uniforms are trending a bit in North America right now.

      I teach at a school with a uniform, but in our case, it doesn’t apply to shoes.

    • In the US it really depends on the area. In my experience uniforms are almost totally unheard of in rural areas (like where I live now) but in more urban areas they are picking up. Any non-public school (parochial, charter, or private) pretty much require uniforms. When I was visiting friends in both Miami and Puerto Rico it seemed like ALL the kids wore uniforms.

      • I don’t think that it’s necessarily true that non public schools require uniforms. I went to a private elementary school and a private high school, and neither of them required uniforms.

  3. Thank you for this post!

    As a Grade 1 teacher, I have to say: Please, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t send your kid to school with shoes with laces if they can’t tie them themselves.

    Also, if you live somewhere where your kid needs snowboots, please have your child attempt to put them on themselves in the store. If they can’t put one type on without assistance, try a different style. Ditto for snowsuits. Also, if you can have the kids practice getting ready themselves at home, it really helps. Getting them ready for recess, and putting their stuff away after recess can really cut into class time.

    Oh, and stay away from those convertible coats with the zip-in liners. The loops that are supposed to keep the sleeves on the liner in place invariably break, and then when the kid takes their jacket off, the sleeves come out. Or the kid will manage to get their arm into the liner sleeve, but not the outer layer sleeve and will end up trapped in the coat.

    Oh, and here’s one trick for anyone who has to help kids put on boots with liners. Those long shoe horns that they make for people who can’t bend over work great for holding Sorel liners in place while the kid gets their foot inside. I’ve taught successive classes of Grade 1’s to use them, and it really helps to keep the liners from sliding down with the kid’s feet.

    • I never pay retail for kids shoes. But I can often find these brands at kid consignment stores. I swear I’ll find those same expensive toddler Toms for $7. Baby feet grow so fast, most second hand shoes are in great shape.

    • I try to think of it as buying a $15 dollar pair of shoes and giving $15 to charity. They’re super great for new walkers.

  4. I work at REI and parents LOVE our shoes for their kids who need active but school-friendly footwear. Some of them are pricey, but our hot sellers this season have been:

    Merrell (especially the Glove line)
    Teva (like the Churn)
    Keen (the Newport is especially popular)

    We also just got this awesome Chooze brand. The left and right shoes purposely don’t match–the fabrics complement each other in color/pattern, but aren’t identical. Super cute!

  5. Our daughter is in kindergarten, and her preschool’s policy was closed-toe shoes only because the playground is gravel. She came home with rocks in her shoes every day, but at least she could run around. 🙂

  6. Just a heads up, the owner of TOM’s is an extreme anti gay evangelical activist. It’s pretty sad the idea behind TOM’s is great. But it upsets me to think that the money that I spend on shoes could be going into aiding such a hateful cause on the other end of things. Also this is an Off beat website where there are likely to be gay parents of all kinds reading. Has anyone thought of doing a socially responsible buyers guide for Offbeat parents?

      • Googling this turns up a different story. Owner spoke at a Focus on the Family event without realizing their anti-equality leanings. He’s since cut ties.

        • Sarah,
          I certainly hope that true. I just wonder how it’s possible for the owner of Tom’s to not know that he was supporting the cause in the first place… It just seems fishy to me that’s all. I won’t support the company. There are lots of charitable ways to give back.

    • I really don’t like Tom’s for many reasons addressed here, but I will say that the whole “Focus on Family” controversy last summer was addressed pretty responsibly, with Tom’s totally backing away from the group and apologizing for speaking at one of their events.

      That said, as for this question:
      “Has anyone thought of doing a socially responsible buyers guide for Offbeat parents?

      …the answer is yes (we’ve thought of it), but no, we won’t be doing one. Ultimately, Offbeat Mama’s readership is wide and diverse, and the issues that are top priority for one reader (environmentalism!) could clash with another reader’s pet cause (animal rights!).

      We trust readers to know their progressive priorities, and make their own purchasing decisions based on those priorities. I don’t feel it’s our place to tell anyone what their values or priorities should be.

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