Have you ever had the thought, "I'll just buy one size bigger so she doesn't grow out of them so quickly." or "His feet grow so fast, let's just see if he can get a few more months out of these."? It's hard to keep up with growing children and their ever changing shoe sizes. However, the investment in proper dance shoes is very important. Insuring that your dancer has the correct shoe size can make or break their experience in class. A 3 year old who's tap shoes are too tight may not participate, while a 9 year old with jazz shoes that are too large may struggle to keep up with faster footwork.
Young dancers are not always able to explain that their shoes are too tight, however they associate dance class with being uncomfortable which is why you will hear them say, "I don't want to go to dance." If your dancer says that to you, a great next question is, "Are you shoes too tight?" Oftentimes a little one that was once enthusiastic about going to dance and has become reserved, unsure, or upset about class all of the sudden needs to have their shoes checked.
When it comes to buying dance shoes, it can sometimes be frustrating to buy several pairs throughout the year. Resist the temptation to buy them large and "wait for them to grow into them". As dancers, our feet are our instruments and if we cannot properly use them we can get hurt, pick up bad habits, or fall out of love with our passion. A musician doesn't use an out of tune instrument, just as a swimmer can't wear a bathing suit that is two sizes too large.
What to do when your dancer grows out of the shoes you just bought? Here are a few ideas of how to save some money when it comes to dance shoes. First, ask your studio if they have a shoe swap program, these can be a great way to save money and to donate shoes you no longer use. Next, ask neighbors and friends who's kids are older if they have used dance shoes to lend you. You can also try used children's clothing stores. They often have previously loved dance and sport shoes. Lastly, if none of those options have worked, ask your studio owner if they carry shoes or know someone who does at an affordable price. Studios that order items in bulk can help you save on shipping.
If you are concerned that your child's shoes are too small, but you cannot tell for sure, look for the following things. With tap shoes, their feet will begin to look sausage like and will be bursting out of the sides of the shoe. In ballet and jazz shoes, their toes will start to curl up. Also, ask them to put on their shoes and walk around the house. They should be able to walk normally in their dance shoes, if they cannot, that is a sure sign!
If you decide to order new shoes online, be aware that no two dance shoe brands are the same. Your child may wear a size 10 in sneakers, a size 11.5 in tap shoes, and a size 10.5 in ballet shoes. Every company has their own sizing and it's important to check their sizing chart and be prepared that a size 10 in Bloch is not a size 10 in Spotlight by ABT or Capezio.
In the end, if you aren't sure, ask their dance teacher and they will be happy to help you!