2020 Back-to-School Shoes

Mom and Dad’s buying guide to every kid’s favorite school supplies

Ah, back to school shopping. That annual rite of passage where we dutifully buy our kids the exact right notebooks, pencil cases, and folders to set them up for an organized year of learning and progress. We get positively dreamy-eyed with visions of engaged kids who are excited about their homework and tell us endless stories of what they learned that day.

As any child will tell you, the most important back-to-school items are shoes. Shoes are your students’ way to express themselves while conforming to their school’s dress code. Having the wrong pair of shoes can be a first day nightmare, but with the right pair of shoes, you can keep them focused on what really counts: education.

Whether you have a fashionista, a skater, a sports nut, or just one cool kid, here’s a list of shoes for kids and teens that are durable, comfortable, and affordable – not to mention hip enough to give them the confidence to approach the school year with a bang.

Top Back to School Shoes for Kids

1. Kids’ Performance Shoes

These shoes don’t pull any punches with durability, comfort, or performance. With mesh uppers, durable rubber soles, visible Max Air units, and trendy 90’s retro styling, your kids will be able to run their best game and look good doing it.

2. Slip-On Kids’ Tennis Shoes

The Nike Flex Runner has an easy, slip-on laceless design, and a grooved, lightweight outsole that flexes with the foot for extra comfort and stability. It also has an added overlay on the toe for a little extra durability, should your kid tend to drag his toes.

For another slip-on option, check out the adidas Lite Racer Adapt. It’s just as breathable and lightweight, plus the Cloudfoam midsole make it incredibly comfortable for all-day wear, from school bus to playground to backyard.

3. Kids’ Trends

The Icon

Lightweight, roomy, ventilated and easy-to-clean, in every color you could ever need – Crocs has them all. Kids and teens alike are in love with these ultimate comfort shoes, and who can blame them? With molded arch support and non-skid outsoles, your little ones will be comfortable and safe all day.

The Classic

The Nike Court Borough 2 Mid is a classic shoe that checks all the right boxes – durable leather with a flexible rubber sole means it’s built to last, plus the classic style will go with any outfit.

The Skater

If skater shoes are more your kid’s speed, the Vans Doheny is for you. The vulcanized rubber midsole is extremely durable (not to mention cleanable with a Magic Eraser!) and the canvas upper is washable. And since Vans are designed to hold up to the high-impact world of skating, you can rest assured knowing these shoes can handle anything your kid can throw at them on the playground.

Top Back to School Shoes for Teens

1. Teen Performance Shoes

The Nike Air Max Excee will keep your athlete performing at peak levels! The foam midsole provides superior comfort, the rubber lugs on the outsole provide extra traction, and the visible Max Air unit in the heel lends extra cushioning (and extra style points). Plus, it’s under $100 – which provides relief to your bank account!

If basketball is their game, the adidas Hoops 2.0 Mid is the way to go! The midrise silhouette wraps around the ankle for increased stability when changing direction, while the rubber outsole has a pivot point for smooth transitions on the court. And with multiple color options, you’re bound to find a pair that matches your teen’s style.

2. Teen Fashion Sneakers

The Nike Court Vision series is the go-to shoe for effortless throwback style. With low- and mid-silhouette options, as well as a multitude of colors, there’s something for everyone. Plus, the durable rubber outsole and leather upper mean these shoes will go the distance for the entire school year.

3. Teen Slides and Sandals

When the dog days of summer seem to stretch on until mid-September, sandals are a necessity. You can’t go wrong with the classic Nike Benassi. The iconic Swoosh branded strap is lined with a soft fabric, and the foam bottoms give long-lasting comfort. With a multitude of patterns and colors to choose from, you’re bound to find something that makes your teen happy.

If you want to take comfort to the next level without sacrificing style, give the Nike Tanjun Sandal a look. You get the soft, supportive sole of the Tanjun running shoe, plus padded straps for extra stability and a sporty look. It’s the best of both worlds!

4. Teen Trends

The Icon

The Crocs Classic Clog is everywhere these days, and for good reason. They’re comfortable, they’re breezy, they come in multiple colors, and they are endlessly customizable with a variety of Jibbitz™ charms. Get one in every color! (And then grab a pair for yourself because, trust me, you will never want to take them off).

The Skater

The Vans Ward is a casual, old-school skater shoe steeped in a history of effortless style. The padded collar, stripe detail, and waffle rubber outsole are as iconic as they are comfortable. Built to withstand hours of skateboarding, these shoes will hold up to everyday wear like a dream.

The Classic

The Unr8d Trainor is an updated take on the classic casual slip-on we all know and love. The memory foam insole and the perforated upper keep feet comfortable and cool – plus, it looks good with everything from skinny jeans to sundresses.

So there you have it! A shoe to fit every kid’s personal style, as well as your budget. While we can’t promise they’ll make your kids run faster or jump higher, they will almost certainly put a smile on their faces. And once you see the total on your Shoe Carnival receipt, you just might smile, too.

All items in stock as of time of publication.

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