Sarah made some great comments after I posted about allowing children freedom in my first 'Montessori in a Minute' article. (read it here). The beauty of writing on a blog is that i don't have to think on my feet........I have had a think about it and here is my considered answer!
To start with, Montessori as a way of structuring your environment is not supposed to be a prescriptive 'one size fits all' approach where Montessori is best and nothing else is worth trying. It's not like that at all. Montessori based her work on the earlier work of other early childhood theorists and was both a friend and colleague to others; they shared ideas and discussed each other's approaches. In particular Montessori was influenced by the work of Froebel, Pestalozzzi, Seguin and Piaget. My point being was that Montessori 'borrowed from the best bits' of others and why shouldn't we?? I do!! There is no way that we can recreate an ideal Montessori classroom environment at home, and we shouldn't be either, it is a home, and one of our unique selling points as childminders is that we offer homely care! Even in Montessori schools, nurseries and classrooms there are myriad different expressions of Montessori, driven by the interprestation of the adult involved, and built around the needs of the children.
So........ snacktime....... the 'ideal' is that children self-regulate and help themslef to an appropriate sized snack at an appropriate time, but in reality, most children will need guiding, whether that is to take an appropriate amount, to actually have some snacks in the first place, to sit at a table to eat it, and more! Young children act impulsively; if they want to eat all the snack, then they will!
The two most important things that I take from Montessori ideas about snack times, is that they support independence and that they are a sociable time! With independence, the children can cut up fruit, spread butter and jam on bread, pour their own drink, set the table etc. The sociable side is that children help one another, talk with each other and with adults and experience the pleasure of being together. I think that Sarah's description of her snack time sounds really lovely, it is what works for the children in your care that is best!
I will try to find some ideas from around the web to add for those that want to see some more ideas for how it could work if they want to try a more individual approach in their setting.