With so many numbers and letters on the shoe box, shopping for a new pair of kicks can be pretty confusing, and you may wonder what PS means when it comes to shoes. You’re not alone, and while many may think it refers to a specific design, style, or even a particular category, the true meaning is quite simple.
PS in shoes means ‘Preschool’ and identifies a size group of shoe ideal for children between three and five years of age. PS shoes range from 6.5 to 8.5 inches from heel to toe, although some brands may vary slightly. This shoe size comes before GS, or Grade School, size.
So, PS or Preschool shoes are simply small shoes for little ones under the age of five, right? Not necessarily. PS shoes can be for various age groups, and with children being very different in size and shape, you may find that your child doesn’t quite fit into this category. So how do you know whether PS shoes are the right size for your child? I have a guide and size chart to help!
What Does PS Mean When It Comes To Shoes?
PS is an abbreviation for Preschool, meaning that shoes with the letter PS on the box are specially made with little feet in mind. The accepted age for which Preschool (PS) shoes caters is generally between three and five years old, although some feel that this should include slightly younger kids too. There will naturally be some discrepancies if your child has larger, or even smaller, feet than is average.
PS shoes are a category of sizing that comes just after TD, where TD stands for Toddler. And, if your little one has outgrown the PS phase, you’d step up the GS size, which is Grade School-sized shoes for children six years old and up.
In terms of size, you may wonder what measurements constitute the PS size grouping, and sometimes age isn’t the best guide either. PS itself isn’t a size since a three-year-old and five-year-old would rarely use the same size. So what sizes are available under the PS grouping? In the US, Preschool sizes include feet ranging between six and a half inches to eight and a half inches. Some brands may differ marginally in size, but this is the most accepted range.
Here is an easy reference size chart for PS-size shoes:
|Size in Inches from heel to toe
|From 6.5 inches
How to Measure Your Child’s Feet
To have comfortably fitting shoes, measuring your child’s feet is essential. Since small children are often not able to tell you whether they are uncomfortable or not, it’s essential to get the size right to avoid blisters as well as stunting foot growth.
Using a professional measuring service is the easiest and most accurate way of measuring your child’s feet. Still, unless you have concerns, it may not be necessary to fork out money for podiatrist assessments. These appointments yield loads of helpful information that also include what shoe type is best for each age group.
Some stores also offer a measuring service free of charge, but if your child is particularly fussy or you’d instead try it at home, there are easy ways to do so. Avoid simply taking a tape measure and placing it up to their foot while on your lap – the foot changes shape and size when weight is put on it, so that the measurement won’t be accurate.
Firstly, try to do the measurement process later in the day and after a time when your little one has been up and about for a while. Follow these steps for an easy and accurate measurement:
- Take a sheet of unlined, clean white paper, and have your child stand on it. While standing, carefully trace the outline of their foot as closely as possible. Repeat with the other foot on another sheet of paper.
- Have your little one wear socks if you’re trying to find the size most appropriate for sneakers and closed shoes requiring socks.
- Using a ruler, carefully measure from the longest point of the toes to the back of the heel to get a size in inches.
- Compare inches with the chart above. Always opt for a size bigger in inches if the measurement is in between two figures – little feet are going to grow, so going smaller is not just a waste of money but will be harmful and painful to your child.
Why Is Sizing Important When Feet Are Still Growing?
As for adults, shoes that don’t fit correctly cause pain and can lead to long-term issues in little feet that overcompensate for blisters and bruises.
Shoes that are too small will pinch, rub, and constrict, all of which are undoubtedly painful for your child. This will also likely mean they don’t want to walk or be active, stopping them from developing and exploring age-appropriate behaviors. Blisters can also become infected when little feet invariable go traipsing into the dirt.
Naturally, constricting the foot’s natural shape can lead to deformity, and forcing a child to wear shoes that are too small will also stunt the growth and development of their feet and lower leg muscles.
On the other hand, shoes that are too big for your little one will cause chafing and rubbing, also leading to blistering and painful abrasions. Additionally, shoes that don’t fit their foot shape make them much more prone to tripping and falling. So, unless you want to deal with busted-up knees and elbows – and, God forbid, a split lip or bloody nose – it’s best to find the right size from the get-go.
Sure, many people will think that opting for a bigger size will last longer, meaning their child can wear the same shoe over a more extended period. Still, if it causes clumsy falls or makes them walk funny, you haven’t helped them at all, and disadvantaging your child for the sake of a few bucks is not worth it.
Children grow rapidly and often, in their toddler years, undergo growth spurts that see them leaping forward in clothing sizes. Keeping track of how their feet change and their size will be incredibly useful if you’re out and about and happen to see some great shoes on sale.
The last reason why shoe sizing is so essential is that in the modern age – and the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – many have become accustomed to shopping online. This means buying clothes and shoes without being able to try them on. If you have accurate measurements of your children’s feet, you stand the best chance of ordering the correct size the first time around, as most websites have comparable sizing charts to look at.
Advice For Finding And Fitting Shoes
There are some important things to take into account when trying to find the right shoes for your little one, and correct sizing is just one of those things. Some of the most useful tips for to make sure your toddler gets the best out of shoe shopping include:
- Always have your child walk around in the shoes you want them to try on. Simply fitting the shoe onto their foot while you’re holding them won’t give you an accurate indication of whether it fits properly – standing with their total weight will fill the shoe appropriately, so have them walk around to see if they seem comfortable.
- Never opt for a size smaller or a size bigger. Understandably, you want shoes to last more than a few weeks in terms of fitting, but going for sizes bigger in the hopes of extending their lifespan will only make your child uncomfortable and cause them to trip and fall.
- If your child’s feet are in-between sizes, it’s OK to opt for the next size up – especially if the shoes require socks to be worn. The difference shouldn’t be too big to induce blisters or chafing.
- Remember that children need to walk around barefoot too, so while shoe shopping can be great fun, allow them the freedom of running around without shoes from time to time.
When shoe shopping for your kids, find the right size that doesn’t chafe, cause blisters, or stunt their ability to walk freely. If your little one is roughly between the ages of three and five, start your shoe search in the PS category – PS means a preschool, and for the most part, provides shoes for children in this age group.
For more shoe acronym guides, check out:
Lorna is a footwear geek and the founder of Wearably Weird. She created a YouTube channel in 2021 for fellow footwear fanatics, dedicated to detail-rich footwear reviews and info. She has a fashion media qualification (awarded in 2011).