It can't be an accident that God gave humans years upon years in which to grow from childhood to adulthood. So much happens in the process. His wisdom saw fit to require much time to form and shape full growth. Miracles aren't all instantaneous.
But, what if those early years which were spent growing us physically left other aspects of ourselves stunted? Our body grew in height, but what about our mind? Our character? Were these simultaneously being broadened and strengthened along with our frame? Were they being nourished by rich, living ideas and exercised by deep, worthy thoughts?
Since we are created in the image of God, there is a depth to us beyond the physical which encompasses the spiritual and the intellectual. We are a soul that has immensely complex needs. Those depths need plenty of time and nurturing to thrive and grow, just as our body does as it grows.
You may have already realized that your own child needs sustenance and nurturing for his entire body, soul, and mind. You desire to do what you can to provide for those needs. But as you try, you fall short. You find it so difficult to impart what you do not possess. You want to learn and put into practice the beautiful philosophies you are finally learning, well into adulthood. You want to experience and express the beauty in meaningful ways with your favorite little persons, and yet life is already in full swing, and you've only just begun learning.
At the moment of introduction to Charlotte Mason's ideas regarding the education of my children, I was ready to hit the ground running. I wanted to do it all (still do!): implementing nature walks, fine arts, regular recitations and reading All The Books. I really didn't know the first thing about much of it early on, but I wanted to jump right in and learn as I went... Have you ever tried to go for a run for the first time in a long time? You start out enthusiastically optimistic, but 5 minutes in, your lungs are on fire and your legs feel like rubber. It was kind of like that for me...for the better part of a year.
I came upon the writings of Charlotte Mason through searching for just something to add to our basic 3 R's curriculum, and immediately began chasing all the rabbits of thought down their trails. That in itself was so fun. (Like those first 5 minutes of running) At the time, my fourth child was not quite a toddler. Just a handful of months later, we were expecting our 5th, and I had a toddler. Let me just say, it is much harder to chase rabbits while pregnant and already chasing a toddler! The ideas and things I had come across, however, were still mulling in my mind even while I wasn't actively studying as much as I wanted, and I had to be content just doing what I could.
Sorry if you expected this to be a how-to-get-there-right-away post. I'm 2 years in now, and still not 'there'. I have been through plenty of those seasons of panic in which I’ve thought, 'I should already have all of this figured out!' I get it.
However, if you've been listening to the conversations around the Charlotte Mason community you will find a common theme: Life-long Learning. The journey is the thing! A Charlotte Mason education is the scenic route of life. I know there are great places yet to be arrived at, but I also feel that we have a groove that works for us right now, and I am loving it. Every day brings new opportunities for spreading the feast and creating an atmosphere of learning and joy. There will be times for sprinting, times for walking, and times to stop and make an entry in our nature notebooks. So much is gained along the way.
So, what does this all look like when you are just beginning to figure this learning thing out and so impart it to your children, yet already have children who need you to be actively involved in their schooling now? Just begin the journey together. Today. Is it the weekend? Start a read-aloud. Monday? Choose one or two of the 'riches' (nature walk, poetry reading, art/composer study...) and add it to your regular school today. Thursday? Do whatever schoolwork you and your kids are used to, and then plan a special day tomorrow doing nothing but one of the Charlotte Mason ideas you are excited to try. It's OK if you don't 'do it all' every day from day one. As the poem goes:
"Little drops of water,
It is the little things that add up. You'll find your groove. Grab hold of your child's hand, begin the growing journey together, and you'll find every milestone a joy. No progress is too small.
"...Thus the little minutes,
Begin today, and you'll find that the desert will begin to become an oasis; the wobbly legs will begin to grow stronger, and each breath will come more easily and more deeply.