Art is important for your child's development, and there are plenty of ways to get her excited about it. Contests, museums, and playtime all provide great opportunities to introduce art. Start now to help your child build stronger academic skills, confidence, and appreciation of the arts.

Doodle 4 Google and Win!

Google has launched its fifth annual U.S. Doodle 4 Google contest. K-12 students from across the country are invited to participate by drawing their rendition of the Google logo and submitting it by March 20, 2012. This year's theme, "If I could travel in time, I'd visit…," asks children to doodle the Google logo as a past, present or future place or moment they would like to visit.

There will be one winner from each state, five national finalists, and one lucky national winner who will receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for his or her school. In addition, the winning artwork will appear on a special edition box of Crayola crayons, and all 50 state winners' artwork will be displayed at The New York Public Library's historic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Visit Google for more information, full contest rules, and entry forms. Check out this video of last year's contest winner, Matteo Lopez.

Take Him to an Art Museum

Most adults think children will be bored at an art museum. The truth is you have to help them adjust to this new experience. It may take a few trips for your child to fully appreciate the experience, but if you tweak your thinking, have patience, and find an exhibit your child will be drawn to, he will begin to realize the value of art and art appreciation.

Provide an At-Home Arts Education

Don't just rely on your child's school to teach her about art. Some schools are cutting arts education altogether. Studies find that children who are exposed to art, and allowed to express themselves through the arts, perform better academically and develop stronger goal-setting, social, and critical thinking skills. No matter what level of art education your child is exposed to at school, you can help her develop her skills at home.

Get Crafty

Even your youngest child can benefit from the arts. Creating crafts with your child is a great way to develop her fine motor skills, imagination, confidence, and self-expression. Plus, craft time also makes for a great bonding experience. You can create crafts based on upcoming holidays and seasons.

Just Play

Sidewalk chalk is a fun way to get your young child excited about her artistic skills while outside. She can draw as big or little, silly or serious as she wants to, and it will all wash away in the rain, creating a clean slate to start again. Inside the house, you can use finger paints, crayons, and chalk using just a table with paper, a chalkboard or an easel to let your child express herself.

No matter the age or ability of your child, learning about the arts and creating art is an important part of her development. Don't worry if you aren't a talented artist or even the least bit crafty. It's about having fun, educating your child, and watching her skills and confidence soar.